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My initial straight daiklaive suggestion resulted in some responses that I found interesting and they got me thinking about the basis for weapon design in Exalted, specifically in Power Combat. My basic design philosophy encompasses some of the following ideas:
• Exalted is primarily about looking cool, its combat is cinematic rather than simulationist
• despite the cinematic style, weapons should - in at least some way - reflect how weapons function; not "realism" but "verismilitude"
• weapons should all be useful; similarly no single weapon should utterly eclipse the others in power
• the concept of "canon text" is not one that is extremely worthwhile, especially with respect to mechanical minutiae
• more as I think of them... With these in mind, feel free to read and comment. -- Trithemius
An Argument from Design? - Trithemius' Weapon Theory
actual content, coming soon!
Exalted is more simulationist of cinema than straight simulationist or cinematic. If it were purely cinematic, fights would be decided almost entirely on the basis of dramatic convention. It does simulate very well the sort of fiction in which some heroes are elevated above the masses by incredible, if not always invincible abilities, and have a host of exotic powers which interact with each other uniquely. There are elements of rock-paper-scissors in it.
I liked the old corebook weapons tables, which I feel were balanced very well for the most part. Most of the weapons were based on five points split between speed, accuracy, damage, and defense, with speed converting at a 3/1 ratio. -braincraft
- Getting "back to basics" is one of the possible choices that I am considering. I mostly feel that Exalted Power Combat is a good thing, but I am not convinced that the weapon statistics were designed with the thoroughness that they (in my opinion) deserve. I absolutely agree with the idea that there needs to be a rock-paper-scissors approach, and that weapons that can manage all of the options need to be fairly bland at them all. I must disagree over the semantics of your "simulationist of cinema" since this is what I understand "cinematic" to mean; it seems redundant to indicate that we are simulating it. "Simulationist" is narrowly defined in my understanding as being the simulation of reality as closely as is possible ("Roll for your chance to see if your pick get stuck in him, then roll against his armours' structural integrity, then roll again to see if he spurts blood all over you and makes your weapon's handle slippery..."). I generally see "cinematic" as being focussed on the results, and how those results pertain to the generation of dramatic situations, whereas "simulationist" concentrates on the 'how' of processes. I suppose it is becoming clear why I noted that I was pedantic on the UserPages. :) -- Trithemius
- I think I confused 'cinematic' with 'dramatic'. 'Cinematic' is what you mean (and what you said, mostly), in that it simulates make-believe reality. 'Dramatic' means it simulates meta-rules of storytelling. The two are related but not the same.
- I think that PC works just fine with the old weapons tables. -braincraft
In the real world, weapons are differentiated, and some weapons can be said to be objectively "better" than others, at least at certain tasks. As you say, weapons that aren't useful won't be used - meaning you might meet a guy on the road who somehow figured out how to use his eyeglasses as a weapon, but that's confined to the more distant realms of wuxia-type fiction.
In regard to the weight of cinematic reality, I would argue that heroes look cooler by using practical tools with unusual success - there are more barbarian heroes who wield swords than who wield, say, dictionaries. For the low end of the cinema scale, look at the Bourne movies - Jason Bourne is heroic even without special props or super-weapons, because he makes heroic use of ordinary elements. This is not to say that people who practice unusual fighting styles (like dictionary-fu) are intrinsically less cool, only that they need a solidly believable reason for doing so. -- BillGarrett
- I don't know if I concur with you precisely. I think that a given weapon can be more effective at a specific type of fighting (in the most basic sense a bow is good for ranged combat, but it is virtually useless in melee; in a more subtle way a large piercing and crushing weapon like a halberd is useful for cracking open armoured cavalry, but it less useful for fencing). I believe that having a system of trade-offs helps to create the verisimilitude that I mention above; it seems sufficiently true-to-life and it also means that there is a sound, mechanically supported, reason to select a given weapon. I (basically) agree with your comment about cinematic reality, but I might be inclined to be a bit more pro-axe for our hypothetical barbarians since axes just strikes me as more rightly embodying the barbarous combat ethos. I will note though that any Exalt, even a low end one, is already a super-powered hero who compares well to your average wu-xia protagonist; to me "gritty" in Exalted does not mean 'lower powered' or 'less essence use', it means that there is more chance of injury, death, and failure for the player-characters. And not all wu-xia involves whale-fu ;) -- Trithemius
- In that "some weapons are better than others", I'm thinking specifically of some martial-arts weapons, and more generally about some of the experiments through history - there's a dizzying variety of pole-arms, for example, as people struggled to find the right formula. Not to mention some of the truly bizarre mish-mashes, such as gun-maces and similar oddities. The "for certain tasks" part sums up the whole idea about bow-at-range, spear-vs-cavalry, and so forth, and I agree that variety is a good thing here. I think the most successful weapons are those that exist in the widest possible niche, because a warrior can choose what he carries (and cannot afford to carry a great deal of weapons at once) but cannot (for the most part) choose the tactical needs he finds himself confronted with.
- Barbarians with axes are good. I was dwelling on Conan specifically while I was typing that :)
- I suppose this is why the infinite weapon is such a damned good idea. ;) I like the idea of some weirder composite weapons, but I would like to establish a basis for mundane weapons to be varied and useful, and then evolve the improvments for artifact versions afterwards. -- Trithemius
Gritty should probably always also include some consideration of how your actions fuck over every conceivably affected individual in the worst possible fashion. At least, that's how it's always been presented by me, and by people who don't know me well enough to tell me that just to get me to bugger off.
Anyhow, what you planning on doing here? Revamping the weapons so that non-daiklaives come up better? Daiklaives are pretty much the king in every class, especially 'grand.' You really see the valuation of damage when you look at the Grand Grimcleaver in Aspectbook: Wood. ~Andrew02
- Daiklaives, that is to say swords, are a pretty good weapon - which sort of explains why they have proven popular throughout human history (this ties in whith what BillGarrett said above about "the widest possible niche"). However, there should be reasons to use axes, maces, spears, and poleaxes - and reasons to use the various subtypes (perhaps because of attribute or ability requirements?). I have not seen the Wood splatbook yet but I'll certainly like to have a look at this extralarge axe for my comparison purposes. -- Trithemius
- Having no personal experience with real swords or much interest in military, I can't really say if their popularity isn't manufactured, as some people on the GameFAQS p&p board suggested in the past. A cursory examination of British responses to native resistance of colonialism, particularly the Maori land wars, suggests that at some point what was popular ceased to be what was most effective (if it ever truly was so). They claim to have experience with swords and all that, and they suggest that the sword was for the longest time the weapon of the elite. And, well, it's not all that difficult to grasp how the elite's habits are idolized and desired by the lower classes. The shotgun is a fairly popular weapon, as is the katana, but even an inexperienced layman like myself knows their efficacy has been grossly exaggerated.
- Anyhow, Grand Grimcleaver, regular: Speed -6, Accuracy +1, Damage +13L, Defense -1, Minimum Strength: 4. PC: Speed +8, Accuracy +1, Damage +14L, Defense - 3, Rate 3, Minimum Strength 4. It looks to me like the Grand Grimcleaver looses two points of speed (are they building them smaller, or something?), one accuracy, two points of defense, and requires on more point of strength JUST for two points of damage in PC. It seems like a poor trade-off to me. The stats don't really spike in a positive fashion as wordman suggested they ought to. The grand grimcleaver isn't piercing, either, so you don't get that condolence (i.e. the grand goremaul gets piercing as a consolation prize for being closer in statistics to a reaver daiklaive). AB: W doesn't specifically give aritfact ratings or attunement costs . . . so I'd assume it's Artifact 3 and 8 motes like the other grands . ~ Andrew02
- It is certainly true that fantasy RPGs tend to consider swords the be-all and end-all of personal weapons; while this is not neccessarily true in every case they are flexible weapons and this can count for a lot. As an aside: do you mean the wars that the Maori fought with themselves, or those agains the British? (Thanks for the Grand Grimcleaver statline too) -- Trithemius
- The wars against the British, though the literature I have read indicates that the British did have Maori allies in those conflicts. ~Andrew02
Other things to keep in mind: Minimize special-case rules. I really don't like the lance having two sets of statistics. -braincraft
- That could probably be remedied better with the Ride system getting more fleshed out and given a sprucing up than working out new stats for the lance. In Power Combat, all I can find is that they mention these weapons do more damage on a charge, but not how much, and I personally cannot find the mechanics behind a charge. ~Andrew02
- Charging and fighting while mounted should be situational modifiers to combat and really should not require entirely new statlines for the weapons; at least in my opinion. I suppose if the rules are hard to find (or nonexistent) I'll just have to tinker with some of my own? -- Trithemius
- I agree with braincraft and Trithemius. I am not entirely certain if it came out that way, though that is what I meant. Personally, I would rather see the Ride ability get a set of maneuvers like those you see in the wrestling section of the Core Book than a different set of stats depending whether you are mounted or not. It is easy for me to see that a mounted charge was a maneuver that gave you extra damage, had a low rate, little defense, and required your mounted to be able to move a certain amount (so you couldn't go charging around on a crippled mount). The increased difficulty in hitting you is just fine by me, but you need to look in the Dragon-Blooded book for mount speeds, and it is not entirely clear how fast you can move if you are mounted, what your mount does, and so on. ~Andrew02
- What I do in my stories is that for every ten yards the mount moves, the rider adds 1 to the damage of the weapon. I do not change the rate or the defense values. In the case of there being many people at different distances, I use the distance currently moved not the total distance. Hope this gives people ideas. DragoonDrake
- I'm not sure I agree with the idea that the distance moved should determine the damage bonus. I may only have moved three yards this turn, but if I've been charging full speed for the last three turns, then why should I get a lower bonus for this attack than if I was making it at the end of this turn's move? Each turn doesn't start with everyone standing still. I think it should be a flat damage bonus, based on overall speed, or maybe the mount's Stamina? Or even your ride skill? Or, hell, just a flat bonus for charging, regardless of the rest. Maybe double the weapon's damage rating? Or something else, probably. I think that, ideally, it'd be a bonus that could also be a penalty, one that would naturally benefits weapons well-suited to use while riding. How about basing the bonus on length? During a cavalry charge, add the weapon's length, limited by the rider's Ride skill, to the weapon's damage. - ErykTheRed
- One thing I've seen before(ED) is that a charge allows you use the mounts strength instead of your own for weapon damage, and you have to do a full combat movement first. (So you can only charge effectivly every other turn). Since the mount is considerably stronger than the rider normally, this works. You'd also want to integerate charges into the mass combat system. -FlowsLikeBits
The "widest possible niche" comment suggests some rules guidlines. Wide-niche weapons, like swords should have their flexibility encoded into stats using a fairly flat distrubtion of bonuses across speed, damage, etc. Niche weapons would be more "spiky" in their distribution. I gather people here understand that intuitively, but it is a good guideline to keep in mind when stating weapons, and provides answers to things like "why use an axe/spear/whip over a sword". Another thing to consider is that some weapons could sacrifice stats for the ability to bend the rules. For example, pole-arms reduce penalities for attacking mounted opponents. No one uses a sai because it has great stats or makes them look cool in their red dress (well, some do), but because it provides bonuses to disarm. Lastly, regarding the comment that weapons use "five points split between speed, accuracy, damage, and defense, with speed converting at a 3/1 ratio": if this is true, it should be possible to generate every combination and figure out what weapons fit into them. - Wordman
- Yes, precisely. Working out the "value" of these rulebending abilities is going to require more thought than weighting the elements of the statline, I think. -- Trithemius
- I think part of the difficulty is that the exact worth depends a great deal on situation. For example, the value of piercing depends on how much of your opponents soak comes from armor. Similarly, for pole arms, it depends on how often you fight mounted opponents. -FlowsLikeBits
I've often wanted to spend the time going over and redoing ALL the weapon stats... but, never had enough time or energy. If I can help with this, however, I shall do so!