And I <3 <3 <3 stunting.

I commented the other night that combat in Exalted isn’t all that quick (when I can blow a relatively cheap charm to get six actions in a round, or the bad guy can attack five times as often as I do, things get slowed down real good) . . . but despite that, I find it far more interesting than combat in most other games. Why? Because the system actively rewards you for being exciting. Say “I run up and stab him” in a normal game, and you roll your normal dice. Say that in Exalted, and you roll your normal dice. Say “I run up his enormous daiklave, feinting with my blade to all sides, then leap into the air, turn three backflips, and stab him in the back” in a normal game, and you have to make a crap-ton of difficult athletics rolls, then roll your normal dice (if you’re lucky; if not, then you’re at a penalty.) Say that in Exalted, and you get bonus dice and some of your magic juice back to boot, just for being awesome.

What’s not to love?

Obviously this approach wouldn’t work for all genres, and probably wouldn’t quite work in an Exalted game that wasn’t deliberately starting in the last chapter of an epic story. But I like the way it rewards you for describing what you’re doing, and doesn’t penalize you for trying the exciting and difficult thing over the safe and boring one. Seems to me that could be incorporated, on a less insanely over-the-top level, into more games.

It also makes me ponder something I’ve pondered before, namely, how one could go about trying to write Final Fantasy/wuxia/anime/etc-type-stuff as prose fiction. One difficulty is that the appeal of such sources is heavily visual, with both the flow of movement and the aesthetic arrangement of bodies; conveying those kinetic and spatial qualities in prose is hard. Another difficulty is simply that we’re not used to such things in our prose, and so a level of over-the-top-ness that you can swallow off a screen is much harder to digest off a page. I gradually toned down the martial arts in Doppelganger over the course of submitting it around, taking out some of the stupider wire-fu that had been in there; I wanted Mirage to be badass, but not so much so that she defied the laws of physics utterly. It might fit into another story, though, and so I ponder how it could be done.

0 Responses to “I”

  1. mindstalk

    I’ve been reading the Fate system, which grew out of the freeform/Falkenstein-like FUDGE, with inspiration from 7th Sea. Instead of Virtues and Flaws, distinctive things about your character are Aspects, whether positive or negative. Strong, Musclebound, Weird Luck, “Don’t touch the hat!”, In Love with X, etc. You can invoke Aspects with Fate Points as appropriate for various effects, either roll-effecting or To Make Something Happen, and get Fate Points when the GM invokes limiting Aspects on you — thus Weird Luck or Bookworm (with social penaltie) can be more productive (and interesting) than Lucky or Just Knows A Lot. Musclebound beats Strong (you could flex to attract or intimidate; you could also get unwanted attention, and not fit into tight spaces.)

    Not quite the same as getting extra dice just for cool descriptions, but might be worth looking into. They have a cool variety of magic system outlines, too. I’m thinking about an Ars Magica-like game around a Fate system, having become annoyed by Ars’s crunchiness.

    Not to be confused with the game FATAL.

    • Marie Brennan

      I’ve seen things similar to both the Aspect approach and the Fate Points, and I think they definitely have their uses, but no, not quite the same thing as bonuses for description. It’s really that latter I’m focusing on, since it specifically rewards creativity in the exact circumstance where players often let it fall by the wayside. (You can stunt things other than combat, but it’s especially handy and appropriate there.)

  2. ninja_turbo

    Wheras if you had Mirage doing Wire-fu, I personally would be hopping up and down in my chair as I read. Then again, I’m not probably representative of Doppelganger’s biggest audience.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the Stuntification. I was really excited to see how much people were getting into it, especially last night’s game.

    Running on Blood? Using fighting chains as climbing tools? Soaring through the air for a gigantic Hammer on Iron flurry? Mothaf*$in Essence Hadouken? Good times.

    • Marie Brennan

      The problem with Mirage was that her bigger stunts weren’t an integrated part of a genre choice (“I’m going to write a wuxia novel!”); they were me ganking random attacks from movies I’d watched. I decided to put her back on a level that meshed better with my stylistic choices overall. If I’m going to give a character wire-fu, I’m going to do it in a context that supports it.

  3. hakamadare

    arguably the same benefits would accrue to the Dogs In The Vineyard system, but that’s partly because these days that’s my hammer.


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