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Archive for Shataina's Manse Creation System

Last archived 5.7.05.

Old Comments

Looks like a good start. I definitely like your ideas for additional Manse powers and quirks, but I don't like another points system that's not in the regular five levels, even if it's just for this one thing. You should try to adapt the points system of the new Artifact rules, IMO. Resplendence

I considered that, believe me; I wanted to make this mostly 1-5 scaled like most "Exalted" stuff. I had two reasons for doing it as I did:
(1) I specifically didn't want Drawbacks to give that many points. Because they both work on a 1-5 scale, that meant that I had to make the powers go on a larger scale. I don't want people to be able to buy Full Sentience just by taking 5 Notoriety, in other words; I want them to have to spend more points for it.
(2) I wanted there to be two "levels" of the levels of Manse power. In other words, I wanted the Manse powers to be restricted by level (hence the rule that higher-level powers can't be taken by Manses whose levels are too low), but I didn't want all of the same-level powers to cost the same number of points. I would prefer for there to be at least one power differential between powers of the same level, which is why I made it so that there's a two-point spread between levels. This way, I can have really awesome powers like Full Sentience [10] be the highest, and have other powers like Controlled Room Rearrangement [9] which are also really awesome and should be limited to level 5 Manses, but are not quite as good as Full Sentience. The alternative would be to have the powers on a 5-point scale and get into fractional points, which I really don't want to deal with; whole points appeal to me significantly more.
Thanks for the comments, though!
~ Shataina

I like this a lot. A minor suggestion, though - rather than sacrificing Hearthstone levels for extra powers (which rubs me the wrong way for some reason), deliberately build the Manse smaller than the Demesne for extra points. Of course, this option presupposes that the designer is capable of doing all the occult mathematics necessary for a Manse of that level - making it small because you have to is TS. - Moxiane

(TS? I don't think I'm familiar with that term.) I would prefer to stick with the canonical rules about lower-level Manses on higher-level Demesnes, which I believe state that if you have a lower-level Manse in such a place, it has trouble controlling the Demesne fully and the results are difficult and unpredictable. (I could be wrong about this, and if I am then it's a houserule I play with.) I like the sacrificing of Hearthstone levels, personally; it makes the most sense to me in terms of where the extra power for the Manse is coming from. Deliberately building a lower-level Manse is something that I think really shouldn't be giving the player points -- it should be a less-than-optimal design option that's only taken because the builders simply don't have the expertise to effectively utilize the full power of the Demesne.
On the Hearthstone thing, do you have any ideas as to why it bothers you so much?
And thanks for your comments.
~ Shataina
TS = Tough Shit. :) As to the sacrificing Hearthstone levels vs. Manse levels - mechanically it works out the same, since you can't build a Manse with a higher level than the Demesne it's built upon (A Manse •••• on a Demesne •••• producing a Hearthstone •• is functionally the same as a Manse •• on a Demesne •••• producing a Hearthstone of its level) - but the difference comes out in fluff. The Realm's Manse-builders don't often make four- or five-dot Manses because they can't, so they make smaller Manses and redirect the excess Essence as best they can into light shows and stuff. The Old Realm's Manse-builders could build a Manse of any level they wanted, so the fact that some old Manses are built upon Demesnes of a higher level suggests that the excess energy was redirected into the Manse to do useful things, like have hot and cold running custard, or full-sensory-illusion sex slaves, or stuff...
As to why sacrificing Hearthstone levels for Manse powers bugs me, it feels too close to the whole "Well, if I take a character who's lost both his legs and is blind in one eye I can just afford this World-Shattering Power o' DOOOOOOOM!" thing. Exalted, for me, is not about point-balancing and ekeing out the last scrap of power that the ST will let you have before bitchslapping you, it's about being reasonable and over-the-top. - Moxiane
Ah, the "thwart the minmaxers!" theory. Actually, "Exalted" isn't about point-balancing and eking out power for me, either, which is exactly why I think this system is okay. In fact, I tend to think that throwing out a system (or part of a system) purely because one is worried about minmaxers is taking the worst possible approach. Disallowing an otherwise reasonable power just because someone might abuse it is something that I hope I will never do. It's one thing if it's unbalanced, on the whole; but if it could be used to minmax, that's not enough of a reason to throw it out for me. I've seen too many good systems ruined by fear of minmaxers, when in reality, I think, the only real way to avoid that sort of thing is to not allow them in your games.
Furthermore, I really do think that if someone does take what might be seen as the power-eking route and take a level 5 Manse and then sacrifice all 5 Hearthstone levels for an extra 20 points, they'll actually be making their character slightly less powerful. Why? Because (a) they're sacrificing a Hearthstone that potentially could do things like turn them into a giant firebird or read the future or make them immortal and (b) they're putting all the extra points into a giant stationary thing that they can't take with them and which they now have to protect.
As my favourite ST says, you shouldn't focus on making your character invincible, because the ST will always find a way to screw you anyway. I think that good players will learn sooner or later that this is true, so even if someone does go the point-eking route, I trust them to do it well, which is all that matters to me anyway. I would prefer for them to have the option and be able to do cool things for it than to take it away because I'm scared of people screwing themselves. :)
Of course, you can always feel free to thoroughly houserule this system if you even use it -- I'm just honoured by your input.
~ Shataina
PS: Hee hee ... I hadn't thought of using the illusion powers to that purpose ... I guess I'm just na�ve, really.
No worries. *grin* As I said, there's no mechanical difference between the two options, it's just a matter of fluff. I do, however, really like the system. - Moxiane
Delayed PS: It occurred to me while glancing over this discussion that the statement "a Manse •••• on a Demesne •••• producing a Hearthstone •• is functionally the same as a Manse •• on a Demesne •••• producing a Hearthstone of its level" is incorrect, because a lower-level Manse on a higher-level Demesne can't take powers that equate to the Demesne's level, while a high-level Manse on a high-level Demesne with a low-level Hearthstone could still take powers that equate to the Demesne's level. I'll try to spell this out better above. I like this better because I would prefer that someone who chooses to sacrifice Hearthstone levels for extra points not be forced to also sacrifice potential powers that they can take.
~ Shataina

I agree with Moxiane. In addition, though, it would be worthwhile to have a system for powers that are in fact powered directly by a Hearthstone and only work when that Hearthstone is plugged in to the Manse. Oh... and you made a comment about needing to carry a Hearthstone in order to stay attuned to a Manse. Is that a house rule of yours? -szilard

Thank you. See above on Moxiane's comment, and below on the carrying Hearthstone thing. In terms of the Hearthstone-controlled powers, I would consider that to fit under the Passwords power [3] -- the Hearthstone would effectively be the password for other powers that the player could buy.
~ Shataina

I also think this is wonderful, though I don't agree that the manse should need to be smaller. A low-level manse can be huge, and the only difference is the hearthstone, so I think you're fine. This is really great.- Morpheus

By "making the Manse smaller" I meant, of course, of lower rating. :) - Moxiane
Thanks muchly.
~ Shataina

"and the character still has to carry it in order to remain attuned to the Manse" - You don't, canonically, need to carry a Stone to stay attuned to a Manse. - willows

Really? Well, thanks for telling me. I guess that's a houserule, then.
But you do lose the hourly Essence and the Hearthstone power if you don't carry the Hearthstone in an item or against your skin, right?
~ Shataina
Right. If you are in a Manse you are attuned to, though, you gain an increased Essence regeneration rate whether or not you have the Hearthstone. Also, if someone hands you the Hearthstone, you don't have to re-attune or anything. Oh... and all those attuned to a Manse must be present before another can attune to it. -szilard
I remember reading that section now. Heh. You know I've been playing this game since it came out and I've never once played in a game in which people thought of sharing a Manse? Manses so rarely come up ... well, this system will hopefully help that. Hmm. I should ask my ST about how that houserule functions for multiple Manse attunements ....
~ Shataina

Really neat idea. I think I'll be using it with our group's manses. And as far as libraries go, you might concider letting the players use manse points to buy the Libary background in the PG. -- BrilliantRain

Thanks. That's an interesting idea, although I think in game terms I would prefer it if my players bought the library separately, and then they could add on whatever cool magical abilities (automatic cross-referencing by computer, etc) they wanted using the Manse. I would prefer that the Library background remain on the same level as the Manse background, in other words, rather than being subsumed into Manse, because I don't want to make Manse too useful -- they're already effectively getting both this awesome fortress and a Hearthstone. <grin>
~ Shataina

Just wanted to say this is excellent stuff. I'm hoping to incorporate these rules (or some version thereof) into my game. I too felt Manses needed more to make them cool than just the hearthstones they created. This'll be great fun when the players visit Bloody Sky's Manse next session. The Kingdom of Halta book was sadly lacking on cool stuff to put in there, now I have plenty of ideas :) -- GameGuru4

Thank you. :) Let me know what kind of adjustments you make to the system if you use it. Also, if you come up with any new and interesting powers, let me know about them too.
~ Shataina

These are some nifty rules, I'll probably use them. I just have a few questions first: How would a manse ID its Hearthstone bearer if it doesn't produce a hearthstone? Would it still manifest an inert control crystal? Would the sacrificing of the hearthstone levels have any effect to essence recovery when in house? - Malikai

Thanks. As I noted above under "Sacrificing Hearthstone Levels", a Manse always produces a Hearthstone even if it's "level 0"; that section also explains how said Hearthstone works. Clarified it a bit, thought you might have gotten confused by one sentence.
~ Shataina

:) Thanks for using Gabriel's manse for your example. Mmmm - Morpheus

<smile> Tasty Manse?
~ Shataina

Another question, would the 8 point power Perfect Illusions allow a Manse (that also has Full Sentience) to pick up and move inanimate objects? I'm thinking no, but a player was asking so I thought I'd ask you - Malikai

I can see where the question might come up, but the answer is definitely no. However, the Manse would be able to convince everyone who trusted the evidence of their own senses that it had picked up and moved the inanimate object, and since it's a brilliant sentient Manse, it would probably be able to keep up the illusion flawlessly without making mistakes (for example, it could convince a person that it moved a chair by covering the real chair with an illusion of empty space, and then when the person sat down in the illusory chair, it could convince her and all watchers that she was sitting in a real chair even though she was actually sitting on the floor ... etc).
If the Manse has the Anima Sense power, it might even be able to create illusions of an Artifact's powers -- thus, supposing a person left their (real) magic sword on the ground, the Manse could cover the real sword with an illusion, then convince them that the sword was elsewhere by creating an illusory replacement that actually felt magical, too. The only way such illusions would be dissipated, normally, would be if the character tried to take the illusory replacement object outside the Manse's range; then it would disappear, and the character (if they're smart enough) would hopefully figure out that this is because the original is somewhere else, and they were just holding a facsimile.
So a Manse could easily convince people that it could move things. It couldn't actually do it, though, and the real thing would still exist, somewhere under all those layers of impenetrable illusions ... and if the person found out the real thing was gone and wanted it back, she'd have to get the Manse to reveal it, or break the illusion in some other (probably subtle, magical and very very difficult) way.
Alternatively, she could attempt to go to the place where she left the thing, pick it up, and leave the Manse without being able to sense the thing at all -- and with the Manse confusing her with full-sensory illusions every step of the way. So, for example, someone could realize that her sword was definitely in the middle of the living room, and she could try to go to the living room and pick it up and leave, but she wouldn't be able to sense whether she was holding it or not; she probably wouldn't even be capable of feeling it, or noticing it in any other way; and she could easily be confused if the Manse subtly readjusted the walls and floor to make her think that the thing was somewhere else. At least, if the Manse were actively trying to hide it.
~ Shataina
I should also note (I'm not sure if this is obvious; if it is, then sorry) that a sentient Manse capable of creating full-sensory illusions is probably smart enough to trick someone into moving an object themselves. For example, it could create an illusion of a table in a room where there was no table; then, when the character put Item X on the nonexistent table, the item would really drop to the floor -- but the Manse would create an illusion to cover the fall, as well as the sound of it hitting the floor, and then would cover the item itself with an illusion of empty space, and create an instant illusory duplicate of Item X on the illusory table. Thus, it would appear that the person merely put Item X on the table, when in fact the item is already somewhere else.
Also, of course, the Manse could also have an "automaton servant" power -- I'd estimate this to be around 3 or 4 points, I'll have to consider it -- which gave it automatic servants, which it could cover with illusions, which could go get things that the Manse would then pretend were still there.
~ Shataina
How about a Humanoid automaton to be a golem-ish body for the AI? - Malikai
I'm gonna put that at 3 points, and have multiple golem servants of the Manse be 4 points; descriptions above. Thanks for the suggestion :).
~ Shataina
I would note that while the manse can do this, depending on the fallout of the perfect illusions, It might have to create increasingly bigger and more complex illusions to cover the results of what might have been a simple trick and thus eventually having to either admit that it was making illusions or go into full holodeck mode where pretty much nothing is real. I suggest looking at the Sea of Mind info in Outcaste for further explanation and over the top examples, but some of that holds true for this too.
For an example (very visible, and quite entertaining) of this idea of the such-and-such making the character do it for them, watch the second Ghost in the shell movie, Innocence, (the scene in the convenience store, where Bateau goes nuts and starts shooting up the place). ^_^ -Suzume

Introduced Damage Effects, inspired by Darloth.
~ Shataina

Thankyou for the link... however, reading over your wonderful Manse Creation system again (which I do not use as-is, because, for some odd reason, manses don't tend to play a big part in my game. I do however think it's a wonderful system and use it for ideas and rough power-level guidelines) I noticed that you get 3 points for dropping from hearthstone level 5 to hearthstone level 4... the same amount you get from dropping from 2 to 1. The point is, a level 5 to level 4 is more of a power-gap than level 2 to level 1... At least I think most of them are. Perhaps you should consider adding the level of the hearthstone dropped into the power calculations somewhere?
-- Darloth

Hmm, well spotted, but that's tricky mathematically. <goes and looks at some examples> I do think that it is more of a power gap between 5 and 4 than 1 and 2, but I'm not sure it's enough of a difference to be worth extra points, and even if it is, no more than one or two. I'm reluctant to try to introduce a new variable for such a small bonus, but you are making a good point. <shrug> I guess Storytellers that use this system should just be encouraged to keep it in mind or something, and give extra points if they feel it appropriate.
~ Shataina
Have you considered giving out (Original Manse Level) in extra creation points for every level dropped, and then a flat 3 or 5 or whatever for the last one? That would produce a system that reflected both the fact that higher-levels should give more points, and each level after the first should ALSO give more points. It ends up as the same, because they cancel out. I think it's quite neat, although you might need to check the numbers... it would mean a hearthstoneless Manse-5 could have a TON of effects.
-- Darloth
I'm not certain that I exactly understand what you intended to suggest -- I thought I did, but your last couple sentences makes it look like you're thinking something different from what I'm thinking ... however, I like the first interpretation that came to mind from reading what you wrote, so I'm going to go with that. Thanks (whether intentional or not)!
~ Shataina
Nope, that is indeed not what I was suggesting... I was suggesting you get 5,5,5,5,5+3 or something, rather than 5,4,3,2,1+3. But, if you're happy with it and it helped, cool!
-- Darloth
Oh, I thought that might be it. I think that would be too many points, though. Although I'm vaguely bothered by level 2 Hearthstones that drop a level giving only 2 Points ... but then again, I think that's better than level 4 Hearthstones reduced to 0 granting 18 points.
~ Shataina

Since learning that multiple people can be attuned to a single Manse, have you considered re-wording some or all of the references to "hearthstone bearer" to "character attuned to the Manse" or something similar? It seems odd to me that a Manse with automated defenses or whatever could attack an "intruder" who was already attuned to it, but just happened to not be carrying the Hearthstone. This also increases the significance of the Realm DB version of the Manse Background, as it is supposed to imply attunement to a significantly larger number of Manses than the character gets Hearthstones. While it may not seem to *need* boosting, I think it would be fair considering that the character does not get to full control over his own personal Fortress of Niftiness. -Everyl

Thanks. After I learned that I did go through the original draft and fix all those references, but it appears that in later edits I've unconsciously slipped back into considering all attuned people = Hearthstone bearer. So, good call. There are a couple of references that I specifically intended to only mean the Hearthstone bearer, though (for example, under "Maintenance", I want the higher levels to require the Hearthstone bearer or the technician to do the maintenance, not just any attuned person or a technician, and under "Full Sentience [10]", I want the Manse to only be required to obey the Hearthstone bearer and not just everyone attuned to it).
~ Shataina

Suggestion: Alternatively, instead of hiring a geomancy expert, a person with Resources as well can opt to have built his home over the manse. This shouldn't have too many side effects... --Boc.

I admit to confusion. Are you suggesting that, for the Maintenance drawback, a person can choose to build his home over the Manse rather than hiring a geomancy expert to maintain it? I don't understand how building a home over a Manse would change anything, particularly considering that so many characters use their Manse as their home already. And if you live in your Manse anyway, then you're perfectly capable of maintaining it yourself, since either a geomancy expert or the Hearthstone bearer can do the maintenance.
~ Shataina
Hmm. Maybe that was the wrong question to ask. I was thinking of letting the Resource background optionally provide a boost to Manse construction somewhat, equal to the number of points in Resources, as an alternative to taking the drawbacks (So for e.g if you have Resource 2 you get +2 construction points). As for having a home in a manse, I was under the impression that if anyone had a house it would be located some distance away from the manse, rather than the house being built directly over it...--Boc
Manses, for the most part, are houses. I can think of reasons why someone wouldn't want to live in their Manse, but it would have more to do with the fact that they're on business elsewhere, or the area around their Manse is too dangerous and / or secluded, or something. As for the extra points from Resources, I'm against it for two reasons. One, a meta-reason: I think it's a bad idea to have backgrounds helping other backgrounds; it's unbalancing, not to mention unnecessary. Two, a game reason: the majority of Manses are already built (especially high-level ones that require extra-superhuman scores to create), so your Resources has little bearing on how well they are built. And even if a given Manse isn't already built, most Manses won't even work if you don't build them properly, and you can't make them work "better" by putting more money in; they have the magic to power a certain level of power, or they don't, and you can build them properly, or you can fail. There's no "super-building" option.
~ Shataina

Added some new Flaw suggestions to be taken in conjunction with this system (under "Further Notes").
~ Shataina