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Myriad's Power Combat 225

Fighting Without Persistent and easy-to-use Full-Pool Reflexive Defenses

In the far Northwestern forests of the Linowan lands, which were covered in snow most parts of the year, there was a series of hot springs in a clearing in the otherwise unbroken ranks of trees. There the hero called The Cold King by Linowan children's campfire stories fled when Realm hunters came to drive him from the land, to the small wooden temple called the Hot House that was constructed on stilts above the waters, where a traveller might seek rest with the monks that tended to the shrine. There he waited, ready to meet his enemies in fair battle, soaking in the spring's relaxing waters.

Six and a half feet tall and sculpted as a statue, The Cold King rose from the waters and strapped on his moonsilver breastplate. He took up his moonsilver daiklaive, and extended a shield of bone and flesh from his off arm even as bone shored up the spots his armor could not cover. They would arrive soon.

Say hello to The Cold King, a 49xp bear totem Full Moon Lunar. He's a proud barbarian warrior, and stomps around with his giant sword, tattooes showing, doing heroic things, terrorizing mortals as he will, and generally having a grand old time. He carries the moonsilver daiklaive Frost Talon and wears a moonsilver breastplate called Gently Falling Rain. To prepare for the fight, he activates Limb-Shielding Growth and Armor-Forming Technique, for a total of 5 motes. He is known as a Melee specialist.

The Lunar's most relevant combat stats are: Str 5, Dex 5, Stam 5 (it costs a Full Moon Lunar only 9 bonus points to boost all physicals to 5-- it's among the most cost-effective use of bonus points there is), Wits 4, Melee 4 (Sword +1), Dodge 3, Essence 2. His Willpower is 6, his available essence pools are 14/20. (12 committed) His soak is 9B/10L/6A. His daiklaive stats are Spd 16 Acc 15 Dam 11L Def 12 Rate 5. He has 2 Ox-Bodies, one of each type.

The branches shook as the Dragon-Blooded, in their heavy equipment, strode forward through the tree line and out into the opening. Their mortal soldiers were left behind-- no use sending men to fight demigods and die poorly, even if it would provide a distraction for the Terrestrials. The red-haired Earth Aspect that stepped out first was a large man dwarfed only by the 7-foot white jade spear he carried. He crushed the earth beneath his white jade heavy armor. Behind him came a small, slim woman in black jade armor with her head shaved, a yard-wide red jade shield on one arm, and a pair of vicious blue jade razor claws adorning her hands.

It was the Immaculate who stepped forward and spoke. "Demon! I am Ragara Sion! Dragon-blessed death comes upon you! Prepare yourself!"

Her companion was next. "Demon! I am Tepet Helos-- may your death at my spear-point be swift and final!"

The Lunar made a... rude gesture in response. Frowning, the Dragon-Blooded gave each other a final look and proceeded forward, staying near one another.

Dragon-brats! The Earth-aspect is a 48xp Five Dragon specialist wearing jade reinforced breastplate and a jade Collar of Cleansing Light while using Dragon Drill, a jade Dire Lance. The Water Immaculate is a 49xp... Immaculate, using jade reinforced breastplate, a set of jade razor claws named Grasp of the Deep, and a jade thunderbolt shield.

Earth-boy has got Strength of Stone Technique (for both of them), Armor-Hardening Concentration, Five-Dragon Blocking Technique, and Five Dragon Form up. He's got 27 motes and a Willpower commited, which is probably a little much, but he wants as much scene-long ass-whoop as possible where an Anathema is concerned. His soak is 18B/18L/13A. He has 10 motes free, and his anima is at the 15+ level. He has a single Ox-Body. His relevant combat stats are Str 4, Dex 4, Stam 4, Wits 3, MA 5 (single opponent +2), Melee 4 (slower opponent +1), Dodge 3, Breeding 2, Willpower 6, and Essence 3. His dire lance's stats are (when using MA, which he usually will) Spd 22 Acc 13 Dam 13L Def 14 Rate 3.

Water-girl has got Water Dragon Form up for 5 motes. Her soak is 21B/22L/10A. She has a single Ox-Body. His relevant combat stats are Str 3, Dex 4, Stam 5, Wits 4, MA 5 (Water Dragon Style +3), Brawl 4 (clinches +2), Dodge 3, Breeding 3, Willpower 6, and Essence 3. She has 18 motes committed, and has no anima banner showing, and 23 motes free. Her razor claws' stats are (when using MA, which he usually will) Spd 11 Acc 16 Dam 8L Def 13 Rate 6.

In a one-on-one fight between the Lunar and either DB, my money would most likely be on the Lunar. However, as we'll see, it's hard fighting multiple opponents without something like Dipping Swallow Defense at your command. He's also at a disadvantage because one of his opponents is an Immaculate, and thus much more likely to have access to a few specific extremely powerful effects-- he doesn't know that in the Water Dragon's case it's very high soak and a scene-long accuracy boost that will make both her split and non-split attacks extra dangerous.

Lesson 1: Without cheap reflexives that can be used all the time, initiative and Rate are deadly-important. Lesson 2: This makes being outnumbered bad-- if outnumbered, fix the problem as quickly as possible. Lesson 3: Lunars are not entirely without full-pool reflexives, though theirs are limited in applicability. However, they are not limited in power.

The Terrestrials approached together, walking across the planks towards the spring the Lunar had risen from, moving their jade weaponry through vague attack motions, until suddenly the Earth Aspect snapped around and behind his companion before extending the Dragon Drill to the full extent of its long reach-- as he moved, the Immaculate rushed forward, and together they probed the Lunar's defenses.

A frosty wind blew through the hot springs, and the Lunar whipped aside both spear and claws. The Terrestrials each jumped back several feet to give themselves room to narrowly evade the Lunar's counter-strokes. Then the Anathema stepped forward, grinning at his advantage...

Both DBs win init over the Lunar, and neither realizes quite yet that this is actually a bad thing. They both split their actions 3 ways, and the Earth-DB tries a probing attack to see if he can force the Lunar into a defensive position, saving 2 actions for defense (doesn't seem like a lot, but he's banking on the fact that the Lunar has to deal with the Water-DB, too)-- bad for the Lunar, because if he aborts to a parry the superior Rate on the Water-DBs claws will cut him up good. Earth-DB attack: 7-1=6 sux. The Cold King activates Crouching Tiger Stance, a 4-mote Lunar full-pool reflexive parry that has the disadvantage of only being useable before the Lunar's initiative. However, since the Lunar has lost initiative, that's not a concern. Lunar parry: 8 sux, attack negated. The great thing about Crouching Tiger Stance (which is 3 Charms deep and only requires a Dex of 4-- not that hard to get) is that it adds 2 dice to the parry attempt, and if you're successful gives you a counterattack. Lunar counter: 8 sux. This is a problem for the DB, who had thought that his attack would force the Lunar on the defensive and consume the Lunar's actions and Rate, not his own-- he parries, because it's his best defense and hopes the Water-DB has better luck. Earth-DB parry: 8 sux, attack negated.

The Water-DB tries the same thing, initially intending to flurry the Lunar down with a pair of attacks before hopefully catching him in a surprise clinch, and relying on her impressive soak for defense later in the turn if neccessary. Water-DB attack: 4-1=3 sux. The Lunar has the same response Lunar parry: 7 sux. Off to a bad start, the DB sees that the Lunar's parries are probably too much for her split dice pools, and resolves to be patient and wait for the Lunar's defense to pass. Lunar counters, but Water-DB activates Flowing Water Defense for 1 mote, which lasts 3 turns-- the DB loses a die from all attacks against the Lunar, and the Lunar loses 3 against the DB. Lunar counter: 5-2=3 sux. Water-DB parry: 5 sux.

The Lunar stepped forward out of the spring, mud splattering everywhere, and made a lunge at the Immaculate to knock her off balance. Tepet Helos began to retreat backwards to give his spear room, hoping his companion would be OK, but the Lunar turned oddly and the Earth Aspect learned that his momentarily defensive weakness was exactly what the Lunar had been waiting for. He learned it, and he learned it well.

But the Lunar miscalculated, and he found that sometimes even a Dragon-Blooded is willing to trade pain for pain. Rather than hold back, he smiled and played the Dragon's game. She hesitated, and her blow found only his bone-and-flesh shield. The Earth-Aspect whirled his spear and his body and evaded some blows, but still others rained down on him, drawing blood from multiple wounds.

The Lunar's initiative comes up, and he splits for 5 actions. He first attacks the Water Immaculate, to force any remaining actions out of her, but she elects to take the hit and he guesses correctly that she plans to come after him. After hitting her, he focuses the rest on the Earth-Aspect to overwhelm his defenses and take steps towards removing him from the fight so he can act on even footing. Lunar's attacks: 3-1=1 (stupid Flowing Water Defense and Thunderbolt Shield), 3, 6, 5, and 5 sux. The Water Immaculate takes the first hit, and the Lunar does not score a damage success. The Earth Aspect spends 2 motes on Flickering Candle Method against all 4 attacks, receiving 3 dice each time. He relies on these dice combined with his 3-die persistent parry against all attacks, but does not use his remaining action on a parry until the second attack. His defenses total 3, 6, 4, and 3 successes, and he spends a total of 8 motes. The Lunar does ping twice and scores 3 levels of damage, reducing the DB to a -1 wound penalty.

The Water Immaculate makes an attack enhanced with Theft-of-Essence Method, at 9 dice (-5 for split actions, -1 for delaying her action an initiative tick to wait for the Lunar to go, -1 for Flowing Water Defense). She scores 1-1=0 sux (man, she's rolling badly), and the attack misses, leaving the Immaculate down 4 motes, 1 Willpower.

Since everyone's in a tight scruffle, here, the Earth Aspect's anima flux affects both the Lunar and the Water Immaculate, and fails to affect either target.

If you're relying on actions for defenses, and not full-reflexives, the world is a tough place. Being outnumbered is especially bad-- between the two of them, the DBs have a combined Rate that would let them make far more attacks than the Lunar could make meaningful active defenses. Thankfully, the Lunar lost initiative, normally deadly but thankfully allowing him to use his full-reflexive defense. It's also good the Lunar's parries succeeded-- due to restrictions on the Charm, a Lunar cannot use a full dodge and the Charm to stack defenses against multiple incoming attacks.

What made life bad for the Dragon-Blooded was the counterattacks, which they did not plan for. If not for the counterattacks, the Earth Aspect would have had the saved defenses to turn aside more of the Lunar's onslaught, and the threat of multiple saved attacks from the Water Aspect may have forced the Lunar to dedicate actions to defenses. As it stands, the Lunar has spent 8 motes, the Water Aspect has spent 5 motes and a Willpower, and the Earth Aspect has spent 8 motes and lost 3 health levels. Seems like the fight is going well for the Lunar.

Lesson 4: Without a persistent defense, out of essence is out of luck-- channeling Willpower can help keep you alive, but probably not for long. Lesson 5: Beware a high-initiative opponent who's also faster than you, because they can control the pace of the fight.

Tepet Helos found himself in a position to attack, but after last round decided to wait until the Anathema committed to attacking him or his Immaculate bretheren, so that he might take defend himself or take advantage of the demon's distraction, as appropiate.

The Lunar saw this and sneered at him. "The brave attack as soon as they can, and naught is left standing before the onslaught of the truly mighty!" The Lunar surged forwards and the steam rising from the springs glowed silver as the Frost Thorn fell twice on the cowardly Terrestrial, both times unstoppable, both times cutting directly to and through even the Terrestrial's jade plate and iron-hard skin.

Earth Aspect wins init but delays. On his init, the Lunar activates his Invulnerable Bear Swipe Combo, which contains, among other things, Tiger Claw Swat and Knowing Weapon Technique. He splits for 2 attacks, and spends 3 motes for Tiger Claw Swat on each attack. His first attack gets 8 successes-- since the DB is at a base parry difficulty of 4, he goes full-dodge instead, at 9 dice, adding 3 to it with his last 2 motes, and channeling Valor (down another Willpower) for 3 more, for 15 dodge dice. His 3-die parry doesn't score enough successes to count, and his dodge scores 6 successes. The DB's soak reduces the damage to ping, but the Lunar spends 6 motes (since Knowing Weapon Technique is invoked after soak) and both damage dice are converted to automatic successes, so the DB takes 2 levels of damage and goes down to a -2 wound penalty. The Lunar's second attack scores 5 successes, but the unlikely happens and the DB gets 5-3=2 successes on a 3-die parry and 5 more successes on an 8-die dodge, evading the attack easily. Because no damage dice are rolled, the Lunar does not (indeed, may not) invoke Knowing Weapon Technique on the second attack.

Earth Aspect's anima flux damages both the Lunar and the Water Aspect. They both lose a health level, but are still at -0.

The Lunar laughed out loud as the blood of the Earth Dragon spilled on the ground, even as his second attack missed due to a miraculous last-ditch effort on the part of the DB. He dashed past both Terrestrials, onto the walkways and to the door of the Hot House. The monks inside linked arms at the door, denying him entry, and The Cold King, always respectful, bowed his head to them before turning back to his opponents. The Terrestrials closed in on him slowly, cautiously.

On his initiative, the Lunar takes his full movement action (that he can take after having attacked), 17 yards. The Water Immaculate only has Dexterity 4 and cannot follow without sprinting and losing her action for the turn. The Earth Aspect is at a -2 and has already gone this turn, so even though Five-Dragon Form increases his effective Dexterity to 7 for movement, he can only move 11 yards this turn (Exalted pg. 233, 'Moving While Injured', notes that characters at a -2 replace (Dex+12) yards of movement with (Dex+4) yards of movement). The Terrestrials close in 11 yards, together (as long as they're together, the Lunar must worry about both their Rate, not just one or the other), and wait for the next turn.

The Lunar's Combo is nasty-- it negates parries (stupid Dire Lance and it's defense +3, take that) and lets him turn Essence=ping into a nightmare. It's expensive, but at -2 and without any remaining essence the Earth Aspect will be easy pickings, now. Instead of risk having to rely on Feline Guard Technique against a Water Immaculate, the Lunar takes advantage of the fact that he is (now) the most mobile opponent on the field, and simply retreats out of range. Smart Lunar-- not he avoids the Water Immaculate's superior Rate entirely, which is good, but even if he could match the DB's Rate, there's a high chance the Water Immaculate would manage to get past the Lunar's parry and damage him anyway, and the Lunar cannot afford to gain a wound penalty and lose his current mobility advantage. Don't believe me that superior mobility effects are a critical, fight-turning advantage? The next turn falls under the same set of lessons.

The Cold King pointed his sword at the wounded Earth Aspect. "Are you satisfied with the life you've lived, poor little Dragonling?"

Tepet Helos stood as tall as he could, and assuming a ready stance. "A demon at the tip of my spear, a trusted companion at my side. How could I not be?" He smiled grimly.

The mark of the full moon burned on the Lunar's brow, and Ragara Sion moved to interrupt the onrushing Anathema, but was far too slow. Before she could react, the flash of silver had struck inhumanly fast and already moved well past the both of them. She looked to her companion, and found him still standing, but bleeding even worse than before.

They start the round 6 yards apart-- the Earth Aspect wins initiative but holds his action for the defenses he knows he'll need. The Lunar splits for 5 attacks, activates his anima power (5 motes), closes the distance and moves 20 yards beyond. He scores 4, 6, 6, 2, and 2 successes. The Earth Aspect goes Full Parry, because he'd rather be more certain to avoid most of the attacks than go Full Dodge and take a larger risk of getting hit by each attack, and he spends a Willpower for an automatic success on his parry against the 4th attack. He scores 7, 10, 5, 0+1=1, and 4 successes, the last two parries being powered entirely by Five-Dragon Blocking Technique. He gets pinged with 2 attacks, and the Lunar rolls 4 damage dice and scores a damage success. Rather than follow the Lunar and give him the chance to zoom by them again, the DBs stay back where they were.

The DBs can't keep this up. The only difference between now and a round ago is that the Lunar is down 5 motes, twice as fast, and the Earth Aspect has lost another level of damage, for a total of 6. His mobility is greatly impaired, and the Lunar's is off the charts. Unless the Water Immaculate can somehow protect him, this fight does not bode well for him.

Lesson 6: Be selfish-- don't make dumb decisions for your teammate's sake. Lesson 7: Wound penalties reduce mobility-- plan accordingly. Lesson 8: In a fight without perfect defenses, the best attack is the biggest. Lesson 9: If the scenery is turned against you, abuse the scenery.

The Cold King's voice reverberated across the clearing. "Monks, I admire your dedication and only wish the best to the caretakers of these fine springs. But if you're still in my way in a few seconds, not even my admiration will save you." The monks fled inside the Hot House, leaving the door open.

The Lunar bellowed and flashed forward again, the Frost Talon flashing silver through the steamy air as the Lunar's most powerful attack again reached out to sever flesh from bone. Again, Ragara Sion was caught before she was able to properly react, but this time she found herself under attack-- she knew that if she calmly accepted such a blow, it would batter past her defenses and leave her unable to properly pursue the Lunar. She also knew that if she defended herself, she would be unable to fight back and her kinsman would be left vulnerable. But these concerns were beneath her-- she had a duty to fight, and so she moved to protect herself rather than risk herself for the Earth Aspect's sake. But even her best evasive efforts failed to stop the Lunar's unstopppable sword from tearing a large gash in her leg, and the Anathema flashed well beyond her ability to pursue, into the Hot House. She and Tepet Helos shared a look, and the Tepet retreated to 10 yards away from the Hot House even as she moved to block the entrance. Just because the demon had outrun them both didn't mean they couldn't outsmart and trap it.

Tepet Helos wins initiative yet again, but being unable to reach the Lunar and also cognizant of his desperate need for a strong defense, he delays his action-- because his initiative is 9 points higher than the Lunar's, he doesn't even bother attacking when the Lunar rushes by, because his attack would be at 2 dice. The Lunar closes 20 yards and activates the Invulnerable Bear Swipe Combo, starting by spending 3 motes and another Willpower, and channels Valor (via another Willpower, leaving him down 3) into his single attack on the Water Immaculate, seeking to injure her and drop her mobility to a level he could more easily exploit. The Water Immaculate re-activates Flowing Water Defense, and he rolls 15 dice, and scores 9-2=7 successes after the shield. Seeing that her parry will likely be ineffective, the Water Immaculate channels a Conviction into her dodge, for a total of 13 dice, and scores 6 successes. Uh-oh-- the Lunar does ping damage, but spends the last of his essence (6 motes) on Knowing Weapon Technique, automatically doing 2 levels of damage, dropping the Water Immaculate to a -1. He moves another 14 yards past them, beyond their movement distances and into the building.

Since these aren't Solars or Sidereals, the old "get as many dice as possible while screwing their primary defense" trick works wonders. The Lunar had a small dice advantage on the attack, and it paid off. Now neither DB has even half his movement distance of the Lunar, who remains untouched except for a single anima flux health level of damage, while the DB's have suffered 9 levels of damage between the two of them. However, the terrain has been turned against the Lunar, who is now confined in a structure which will limit his access to his superior speed.

Ragara Sion scanned the inside of the shrine. There were hot baths spread about, and in the center of each bath a statue of the god of the springs, who took the form of a hefty older man eternally drenched in sweat. The temple's monks prostrated themselves before the statues in prayer. It was almost as hot and steamy inside as a sauna, but the Immaculate still spotted the Anathema as he stood in front of the temple's largest statue. The Cold King shouted out, "Old Whorall, god of the springs! Forgive my desecration of this temple, but by a Lunar's oath I shall make it up to you by sacrificing much jade in your name!" The Lunar dashed behind the temple, and the Frost Talon struckon the back wall of the temple, wooden shards flying in every direction. The Lunar easily fled through the hole he had created. Suddenly worried about her companion, Ragara Sion retreated from the doorway and back to Tepet Helos.

The Lunar wins initiative and flees through the back wall, but not before breaking it down with his sword, first. It's only a wooden wall, so it only takes one good whack to destroy a man-sized hole. If it were brick, the Lunar could still probably have done it by splitting his action. If it were stone, he'd've been in more trouble. The Lunar does a raw damage of 20 on his attack, more than what he needs, and then he flees outside. The DBs stand together again.

When in doubt, smashy smashy.

Lesson 10: It's hard to come back from a fight you're losing in Exalted as soon as you're wounded, especially against a more mobile opponent who can win initiative.

The Dragon-Blooded stood slightly apart, even as the wooden pathway groaned under the weight of their armor and the Earth Aspect's anima. They stood, each facing a different side of the temple, waiting for the Lunar to make an appearance. The Cold King did not keep them waiting, and appeared around the right side. He waited there until both Dragon-Blooded noticed him and turned to face him. He moved, slowly, until he was just outside of their range of attack. He waited until he spotted a moment of weakness.

Blood and fury in his eyes, Tepet Helos did not care for his own defense, but found that it was his only option, the Lunar flashing into and out of his attack range before he had realized it was his blood that was cast into the air.

Ragara Sion, always too slow, only heard the thump of her kinsman's body striking the walkway. Essence fleeing his body, Helos' jade armor suddenly weighed its full weight, and it crashed through the flimsy wooden plans and into the warm, muddy ground below, where it began to sink into the earth.

The Lunar waits outside the DBs' move-and-attack radius (let's say at a distance of 16 yards) until a turn where he wins initiative. The Dragon-Blooded know better to advance or retreat, since the Lunar can maintain any distance he wants from them no matter what they do. Eventually, thanks in part to the Earth Aspect's wound penalty, the Lunar wins init and makes another rush-by attack, splitting for 5 attacks yet again, scoring 8, 4, 2, 4, and 3 successes. The Earth-Aspect launches into yet another full parry, scoring 5, 3, 6, (channeling his Valor again for a Willpower), 3, and 0 successes (ouch, those weren't good rolls). 4 of the Lunar's attacks hit for ping, and he does 4 levels of damage on 8 dice of ping damage, reducing the Earth Aspect to below incapacitated and dashing 18 yards past them.

About what you'd expect.

The Lunar laughed and shouted out across the clearing, "Old Whorall, god of the springs! I dedicate this Dragon-Blooded's death, and his fancy jade toys, to you! May you forgive my intrusion and damage of your temple!"

The Water Immaculate stood in a ready stance, but her fate seemed clear to her-- the same as Helos'. And yet, she was wrong. The Cold King stared into the hatred in her eyes, and could only chuckle. "This one, however, her equipment will belong to me. Leave your jade armaments here, say a prayer to the god of the springs, and flee back to your homeland, lizard-spawn, or you will face the same fate as your companion. And know that if I see you again, I will be less merciful."

Hee. Ragara Sion succeeds at both Valor and Conviction checks. Poor girl.

"I'll die first, hateful Anathema!"

The Cold King smiled coldly and brought his sword into a ready position. "And so you shall."


After-Fight Thoughts

The fight might have ended differently if the Water Immaculate's attacks during the first round had not rolled so badly. The lessons? Lunar Charms Combo in nasty ways, and they do so very early on. DBs with a lot of equipment and scene-long Charms are out of luck when it comes to having much essence available, even with a dot or two of Breeding. Without perfect defenses, the biggest attack is usually the best.

I try not to design the fighters or their tactics with their opponents' builds in mind. The fight would have gone differently if the DBs had known that 14 dice+a shield was the maximum amount of the defense the Lunar could put up multiple times a turn (he can add a dodge to it once a turn). If both Dragon-Blooded had opened the fight by channeling a Virtue and making a single attack with as many dice as possible (for example, the Earth Aspect could boost his Melee attack pool up to 16 with his dice-adder and to 19 with a Virtue, if he hadn't been saving so much essence for defense), they would have likely damaged the Lunar more in the first round. Of course, the Lunar had more health levels than either Dragon-Blooded, and in such a situation would have activated his attack Combo (which contained both Crouching Tiger Stance and Feline Guard Technique) and blown a lot of his essence wounding both DBs down to -1 in a single round, activating his anima power, and fleeing-- his superior number of health levels insured that the likihood of them dropping him beneath a -2 in one round was low, especially if they only made single attacks. He could, if he needed to, outrun them at a -2 with them at -0, with the anima power up, but it would be much safer with them at -1.

Damage success buyers are essential in Power Combat. Without it, the Lunar would not have been able to injure both Dragon-Blooded as quickly as he did, and his mobility advantage would have been in danger, removing his ability to engage the Terrestrials at will.

As it stands, the Water Immaculate has no control over the fight and will eventually die from too much ping, but it will take much longer-- between Flowing Water Defense and the fact that she can Full Parry more attacks than the Earth Aspect, she has a much higher chance of turning aside more spam-attacks, but if the Lunar only makes 2 attacks per run against her, he'll still get lucky and ping her every now and then.


Fantastic example. Thanks. --MF

Very, very nice. In fact, I find this more impressive than the TheMyriadOfShades/PC450, bc combat at this level is actually more difficult. (This is because charm mechanics seem easier to understand than the wackyness of the basic combat system) Observations:

  • This is a somewhat bad example, as normally one would regain motes via stunting. I'd probably assume 1 2-die stunt per turn, although assuming a 1-die stunt would work also. I can understand why you did it, as stunting is a thing that varies alot between ST's. Unfortunatly, it's really important in combat at this level(but not the previous one, where both combatants had efficient ways to regain essence). This is why I kinda wish it had been included. Without it, essence is essentually one-shot and

IMHO, the game is desiged assuming that it is possible to regain essence in combat. Basicly, the lack of it changes things very significantly. I can understand why it wasn't included however.

  • A feature(or flaw IMHO) of the exalted combat system is that iniative is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY powerful. I.e. if you are faster than your opponent, you dictate the battle. The reason for this is: If you are attacked before your init, you can abort, or TAKE the hit. Under power combat, taking the hit is an incredibly bad idea. (Most likely you opponent will split, and it will be hitS). So, your options are abort, which basicly means you have no chance to harm your opponent without a counterattack effect, or use a reflexive defence charm. Thus, against an opponent with a higher init, you HAVE to use a charm to hurt them, either a counterattack, or a reflexive defence vs their attack. (Thus persistant defences are really powerful.)
    • This actually combines with ANOTHER feature of PC. In this case, due to the Init holding Penalty, the Earth Aspect could not split his pool before the Lunar went and try to poke the Lunar as he came in to attack.(PC actually suggest allowing people to declare a reasonable condition for them to use their held actions. Like "when the Lunar attacks me")
      • We also see ANOTHER feature, which is: even if I do win init, I need to guess how many attacks my opponent will make and split appropriatly, because, if I don't offer an active defence, I can be hit by a blind kid with baseball bat, no matter how good a warrior I am.
  • All of these decisions are basicly negated by reflexive full-pool defences and persistants. Be glad your a Solar.

  • Combo's are really powerful. This shows the power of combo's also, as the Lunars basicly turns the tide in the first couple rounds. The existing combo rules encourage you to basicly put off getting combo's as long as possible. Combo trends are another thing that probably tends to vary between groups. This would have been a lot more even without the Lunars combo, which allowed him to get in, defend and buy damage.

Sorry for the long comments. This was stuff I took away from it, and didn't want to forget. Seemed like it might be useful to others also. -FlowsLikeBits, <i>thinks this should probably be required reading for combat charachters, it's way better than the core examples

Thanks for the comments! You're right about the stunting, and it is assumed that in Exalted you regain back some or even a lot of essence via stunts.

Except to make the fight fair, I would have had to assign similar stunt bonuses to each character, since otherwise I could just stunt better for some characters than others, and although it would be a better fight for Exalted, it wouldn't be a very good balanced example. It's not exactly Exalted, but it's nice and sterile and is good for illustrating things.

In an actual fight with stunts, assuming a single one-die stunt a turn from each character, the Earth Aspect wouldn't have run out of essence so quickly, but neither would the Lunar. I expect the Earth Aspect would have immediately spent most of the essence on powering Flickering Candle Meditation to help avoid attacks, and it would have slowed his death significantly. The Lunar would have been able to rely on his Crouching Tiger Stance longer and more often. The Water Immaculate had no essence problems, and so it would not have affected her. The fight would have lasted longer, but still would have most likely ended the way it did (assuming a similar trend in rolls) because the Earth Aspect is doomed if he attacks or not. If he makes a big attack and it gets past CTS, he might drop the Lunar to -1s, but the Lunar will then flurry him right afterwards. If he splits his actions to attack, he's unlikely to get past CTS and will be forced to expend crucial actions to parry the counterattack. And if he defends, the Lunar can keep attacking all day, sneaking in ping damage whenever he rolls badly. What kills him is the low Rate of the dire lance-- he can't make enough parries to deal with the Lunar's flurries and can't split enough ways to effective attack and defend in the same round against the superior-Rate Lunar (the +5 acc on a moonsilver daiklaive didn't help).

You made a great insight-- the Power Combat rules, with their Rate restrictions and init-holding penalty and other such fun, intentionally favor Solars/Abyssals over others. It also initially appears to favor Sidereals, but between essence=ping, the reduced defensive ratings of many weapons, and the increased accuracy ratings of many weapons, Sidereals face a real "kill your opponent quickly, get a persistent defense, or hope ItF doesn't exhasut you and get you killed" dilemna that makes them powerful, but not insane. Between the Charm revisions and the biases built into the system against those without plentiful reflexives (note that the Lunar's Combo, containing both CTS and Feline Guard Technique, is designed to allow him to use reflexive defenses both before and after his initiative, even though FGT comes with nasty other restrictions), Solars are much more powerful in Power Combat than in Classic, both on their own merits and because they have ways to ignore many of the restrictions Power Combat (or the combat system in general) places on your behavior. This fight was a little unfair, because the Lunar could, to some extent, play the "I rely entirely on reflexive defense" game, while a fight between opponents who both have to worry about splitting their Rate between attack and defense looks very different.

Lunar Combos are essential to their survival, and they're the Exalted type I expect to buy the most, both early and often. They've got a lot of good to great Charms, and to get an opportunity to use them without losing their reflexive defense, they have to put them in Combos. DBs get free reflexives, and everyone else gets persistents. On the good side, Lunar offensive Charms are nasty in a wide variety of ways-- something people often forget. They're very dangerous even without DBT-- with DBT, they're damn near unstoppable. -TheMyriadOfShades

I'm a little confused about why you didn't have consistant essence regen each turn(say one two die stunt). In this case, I think it would make a huge difference, as by the time each side had managed to feel out the other, they were out of essence. This reduced the contest to the Lunars better stats and higher init. (No Essence Regen combat favors Lunars I think. They tend to have better base stats, even without DBT, so they arn't impaired that much by lack of essence. DB's seem the most dependant on Essence Regen in combat, as they want to power their reflexives in flexible ways. They don't have the Lunars natural stats or the Solar affinity for Scene length effects.) I'm not sure it would change the final outcome. But it might make the Lunar work for it a bit.
In this case, I think the Water Aspect could have made a better showing by moving up toward the Lunar and using Rippling Water Strike(2 motes) on the ground. It's a 10 yard radius, so it kinda compensates for the Lunars mobility. (I think I did that math right). Anyway, it would give her some chance of doing damage.
Yeah, Power Combat doesn't really help Sidereals. They still basicly have no soak and no ox-body, so most hits are better than ping anyway. I'm not sure it intentionally favors Solars/Abyssals, other than it fixes some of their charms. They didn't tend to use split actions for defence anyway, and rate cuts off some of the worse abuses.(I attack 12 times with a Grand Daiklave!)

-FlowsLikeBits, still a GREAT and educational example thought.

Having a high-accuracy moonsilver weapon and wounding the high-init DB by the time they ran out of essence is why the Lunar won-- his base stats before weaponry were actually lower than the DBs, because it's much cheaper to buy specialties (which they're loaded with) than attributes (which he's maxed on) at character Creation. The Earth Aspect had a much higher init to begin with, but as soon as he was knocked down to a -2 wound penalty, the Lunar had a much higher chance of winning initiative each turn, and since he was faster, could wait around until it happened.
You're right, though-- in the future, if I do any similar write-ups, I'll make it a flat +2 essence per turn to represent stunts.
Oooh, you're right about Rippling Water Strike. I hadn't thought of using the Charm that way. Honestly speaking, the Water Immaculate was probably the toughest fighter in this example in a straight-up "i hit you and you defend and hit me back" back, but the Lunar was smarter than to fight like that, so the Water Immaculate should have been smart enough to think of those unorthodox tactics, as well. Although be careful-- the range on RWS is 10 feet, not 10 yards, so the Water Immaculate would have had to close within 3-4 yards.
It doesn't give Solars/Abyssals the game or anything. But when you literally don't have to worry about your or your opponent's initiative or Rate when planning your defense (unlike the Lunar, who knew that FGT wouldn't be enough to deal with those jade razor claws), fighting is much easier for them because they never worry about split actions for defense. Solars get a better deal-- with their fighting style, a higher Rate means more attacks emerging from that whirlwind of defenses every turn. - TheMyriadOfShades
RWS: Good point on the range. I think she'd have to knock the Lunar to -1 before going to -2 herself to have a chance, which would take some luck on her part. (Honestly, I always kinda considered this a wierdness in the system, that opponents could continually come in and stike with no chance of retaliation. I'ts most obvious with flyers. Sure, they can do it once, but then I'm ready for it. It always seems weird that you can't hold you action till the opponent attacks, across rounds). Well, sorry for the minor rant.
For the future I'd probably make it a +2 or +4 every turn(for everyone). One could randomize for everyone each turn or have some set pattern for turns like +2/+4/+2/+4. or (+2/+2/+4/,or whatever) I think being able to get will power back is important also(as you pointed out quite well, lesson 4), and the posiblity should exist.
I was a bit surprised about the Earth going with full parry in the last round. He has a base dodge pool of 10 under power combat and with the 3 die block from 5-dragon, he's probably better off overall(His base defence pool is only 1 less, and it negates the Lunars rate advantage). I admit I didn't notice that at first either. This can be complicated. Don't think it would have made a diff though.
First time posting sorry if I screw something up. I loved the example but I noticed the Lunar comboed and split his dice pool in the same turn. I thought that was against the rules. Either way thanks for the cool example. I am going to have my players look at this page so they can see the wonder and complexity of real Exalted combat.

TheMyriadOfShades, I hope you don't mind, but I am going to print this page out and make it manditory reading for all of my gamers. Even though my characters are closer to your PC450 in terms of exp and skill, this is a great example and maybe they will learn a thing or two. Thanks in advance. DragoonDrake

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