Ashen Dispatch of Patterns, Sidereal Martial Arts Style; Expression

Share your homebrew charms and spells for others to use and feedback

Moderator: Epiphany

Post Reply
Kahbiel
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2021 8:31 pm
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 5 times

Here for your critique or consumption, a sword-centric Sidereal Martial Arts (sans and pending the rules for SMA) that's all about breaking reality via Transcendant Expression.

Updated on 3/11/22 following a few suggestions and a more careful comparison of other charms.

 Ashen Dispatch of Patterns Style

The Students Sutra of Expression: Once, there was a skillful maiden…  

Weapons and Armor: Ashen Dispatch of Patterns Style can only be practiced with slashing, straight, or chopping swords or their artifact equivalents.  It is incompatible with armor.

Numinous Transfixing Kata
Cost: 8m, 1wp; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 3
Type: Simple
Keywords: Psyche, Decisive-only
Duration: Indefinite
Prerequisite Charms: None
..whose learned arts brushed perfection.
Demonstrating transcendent grace in a singular movement, the Stylist impresses upon a target the incomparable significance of her technique, rendering other experiences shallow and transitory.  Holding the target with the impossible beauty of her motion, she grasps their reality. 
To begin the attack she chooses any target perceiving her, rolling Charisma+Martial Arts against his resolve as a decisive attack, if successful she rolls her initiative as a  grapple gambit with a difficulty of the target’s temporary willpower. 
Success forces her target into a Control Grapple roll, with the stylist rolling Charisma + Martial Arts with (Essence) successes, rerolling 1’s until they fail to appear. Her target rolls twice their resolve to oppose, including intimacies if applicable. Traits, charms, and merits that normally apply to control a grapple have no effect unless rooted in integrity or wits, and she may target battlegroups or enemies of any scale or size without penalty.  The stylist transfixes her target for a number of rounds equal to 1+threshold successes.
To a transfixed target, reality outside of the stylist seems shallow and transitory. He takes -2 Defense, -1 to Attacks, and Cannot Flurry. Actions that do not interact with the stylist take a penalty equal to half her essence rounded up, but this penalty may be waived for a round if the target pays a point of willpower.  No one can be targeted by this charm more than once per story. 
This charm may create long-lasting damage. If the threshold successes on the control roll exceed the target’s permanent willpower or if the target kills the stylist while transfixed, he suffers an obsessive derangement at a major level. Curing the derangement is possible but requires miraculous care, demanding both the use of magic and long-term periods of treatment.

Iron Horizon Sublimation
Cost: 5m, 3i, 1wp (+3i, +1-3a); Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 3
Type: Reflexive
Keywords: Clash, Withering-Only, Perilous
Duration: One Tick
Prerequisite Charms: Numinous Transfixing Kata
It became a bulwark against her rivals
The edge of the Sword describes the reach of power.  But the Unseeing Imperator acknowledges no boundary; their thirst drinks oceans. Grasping the edge of reality, she flicks her blade in the slightest of motions, piercing a hole between the threads of existence through which all of creation might pass. Should the Thousand-Floored Manse of the Emperor that Was topple upon the Ashen Dispatcher and her allies, the path of her cut will quell the disaster. 
This charm creates a clash against a withering, decisive, or environmental attack of any kind, removing the unclashable descriptor from the effect if present. Opponents who are overcome by this clash cannot lose more than the Stylists' Overwhelming score in initiative. This clash may be applied against effects dealing uncountable damage, creating a Wits+Essence roll-off if the effect contests another character, or sets a base of 5 successes to clash against if not.  When used against an ongoing effect, this charm halts the danger for rounds equal to 1+threshold successes on the clash. She needs only roll her clash once to defend against all attacks in the tick, but each attack after the first costs an additional three initiative.  Attacks that would spend her into negative initiative bypass the clash created by this charm, setting her defense to zero against that and any additional attacks that tick.
Burning in the throes of their prowess, the stylist may expand the scope of this defense by spending anima. She widens the protection to everyone in close-range at one, short-range at two, and medium-range at three. Her clash is rolled once; successes on this roll act as a clash for her and a defend-other parry defense for everyone in radius. 

Tower Toppling Feint
Cost: 5m, 1wp; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 3
Type: Simple
Keywords: Withering-Only, Perilous, Psyche
Duration: Instantaneous
Prerequisite Charms: Numinous Transfixing Kata
… and won her vast riches and brilliant pupils besides.
The palaces of the Mighty look across Creation with pavilions from East to West, lording over all that is, but the lone artist evades this accounting.  Her strike is singular beyond the masses and blinds empires to her wroth. Drawing on the attention of her poise and the power of her technique, she overwhelms an opponent with a seemingly deadly blow only to twist her enemy into a catastrophic misstep.
The stylist may use this charm only at >10 initiative, making a withering attack. If successful, she adds her current initiative as raw damage. Successfully attacking a target with this charm resets the stylist to base initiative, while a miss costs 3 initiative. If this attack crashes the target they suffer further debilitation, as the victim comes to doubt the stylist could ever be genuinely harmed.  For as long as the target remains crashed they suffer a Psyche-based crippling penalty of half the stylist's Essence in all rolls made in opposition to her.
While in Ashen Dispatch Form, this charm may be used to hurl truly massive objects at a target, adding the stylist’s current initiative to her strength score for determining what she may annihilate in an act of destruction and what she may lift and throw at opponents foolish enough to face them in battle  Such objects seem to be momentarily frozen in time absorbing the force of the stylist’s cut before being released, the immense momentum sending the peaks of mountains hurtling at their victims. Hurled objects with a strength requirement >10 become either unblockable or undodgeable without magic but otherwise function identically to a melee attack using Tower Toppling Feint. Battlegroups taking damage from this charm do not add their Size rating to their soak when suffering such an attack and treat this attack as provoked by a devastating supernatural area-of-effect, adding +1 to the rout difficulty. Such attacks are made using the Stylists Wits + Martial Arts and may be made at enemies in short-range, or at medium-range with an aim action.  This aspect of the charm cannot be activated outside of combat, the stylist must first join battle to determine her initiative and may attempt the act of destruction a moment later, presuming no one else participates in the join battle roll.  Activating the charm out of combat still requires the stylist to reset the charm if combat begins later in the scene.
Reset Condition: This charm may be used once per scene unless reset by incapacitating an opponent of Legendary or greater size or by routing a battlegroup of at least size 4.

Ashen Dispatch of Patterns Form
Cost: 15m, 1wp Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 4
Type: Simple
Keywords: Form, Perilous
Duration: One scene
Prerequisite Charms: Iron Horizon Sublimation, Tower Toppling Feint
Everything is one, she instructed; master a single art and master existence.
Ashen Dispatch turns upon this lesson; the will is not a consequence of existence; existence is a consequence of the will.  Voiding their being of thought and perspective, the Exalt expels and crystalizes their power, draping it across themselves like a conquering mantle.  Motes committed to this charm do not add to an Exalt’s anima banner, but nor are they mute. Instead, the anima manifests as ink-black waves of energy that echo in the stylist’s movements and shimmer along the edge of their blade. This aura pulls all the world into its ever-hungering edge.  With prolonged exposure, even mighty structures may shudder and fall, paved roads collapsing into trenches where the stylist step.  She gains the following benefits while in this form:
• Attacks that fail to overcome her defense don’t inflict onslaught penalties. Magically inflicted onslaught penalties still apply.
• She can’t be reduced below Initiative 1 by withering attacks unless they have 10+ dice of post-soak damage or their initiative was already greater than the stylist before the attack. Such attacks still award the full amount of Initiative damage rolled to the attacker.
• She can’t take more than (attacker’s Essence + 3) levels of damage from decisive attacks made by characters of lesser Essence. Levels of damage added by magic don’t count against this limit.
• She can engage Legendary Size enemies on equal footing, with neither the Merit nor this charms benefits against the other.  Enemies with Living Landscape and similar merits are treated as having only the usual benefits of Legendary Size compared to the stylist.
 She also gains the following benefits:
• Her attacks deal +3 raw withering damage and add +3 Overwhelming.
• She gains +3 natural soak and Hardness 7.  Unless explicitly stated otherwise, the soak stacks with other sources; only the greater hardness is applied.
• She adds Essence to her effective Strength rating for determining what feats of destruction she can attempt.
 Special Activation Rules:  The stylist may reflexively enter the Ashen Dispatch of Patterns Form by transitioning from another style that shares form weapons with Ashen Dispatch Style by paying a willpower point.

The Elder Sutra of Expression: The Maiden passed ages in sublimity…

World-Axis Tread
Cost: 6m; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 4
Type: Reflexive
Keywords: None
Duration: Essence Rounds
Prerequisite Charms: Ashen Dispatch of Patterns Form
until flawlessness became stagnation.
Though she might wear the form of a simple warrior, the earth trembles beneath the tread of the Ashen Dispatch Stylist. Projecting her attention, she condenses a direction into a single line.  With but a pivot of her gaze, Creation rushes to meet the treasure of her attention.  This creates an internal and external effect.
Internally, the stylist's very intention pulls at existence the way Luna pulls at the seas, granting her an additional soak equal to twice her highest applicable intimacy in this scene. An assumed defining intimacy towards her own survival is only applicable if she has been reduced to a -2 or greater wound penalty.
Externally, her essence to pulls and twists Creation, she becomes a living environmental hazard of cutting essence and pressurized power. Anyone within close range of the stylist when she takes an attack, defend, or movement action must succeed at a difficulty 5 Athletics, Dodge, or Resistance roll.  Failure results in a 5 dice withering attack which cannot be soaked except by powers such as Iron Skin Concentration. Battlegroups take this as standard magnitude damage.  Anyone who takes 3+ initiative damage from this charm either falls prone if the stylist is attacking or defending, or follows her into the next range band if she has taken a movement action. The stylist does not gain the initiative damage caused by this charm. 
While in Ashen Dispatch of Patterns Form, the flimsy matter of Creation bends and warps to her whim. Earth rises to meet her steps no matter where she runs and a concussive boom of air follows the backswing of her strikes. Outside of stunt-fodder, this charm allows the Stylist to act as if walking on regular terrain no matter its actual form. She walks the air as if ascending a stairway, or walks through waters as if it parted at her coming.

Four Score Bronze Frenzy
Cost: 10m, 1wp; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 5
Type: Simple
Keywords: Withering-Only
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: World-Axis Tread
Embittered, she cursed her art and broke her 10,000 priceless brushes, 
Every motion of each technique to this point is meticulously calibrated and unceasingly disciplined; in muscle, in breath, and in essence.  Upon learning this technique The Ashen Dispatch Stylist can drop the leash of restraint taught by this art, all their prior focus is spent to become the center of an annihilating storm.
Activating this charm, the stylist makes a withering attack against a target within short range with a full free Excellency and double 7’s. She may deal no more than her current temporary willpower in damage from this first attack. If this strike hits she may make a second attack against any enemy within her new short-range, using a number of dice equal to her essence plus threshold successes on the first attack and applying double 8’s. This pattern continues to double 9’s on a third and double 10’s on a 4th and final attack if the third hit. 
Any target struck by this technique who takes 3+ damage is knocked prone. Such is the destructive power of this technique that unless the area is fully formed of Magical Material everything within close range is broken and pulverized, becoming difficult terrain.

The Subtle Cut
Cost: 6m; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 4
Type: Simple
Keywords: Decisive-Only
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Ashen Dispatch of Patterns Form
She flogged her students till they fled and set fire to her studios.
To the Ashen Dispatch Stylist, the timing of the lethal strike is not a matter of waiting for the perfect moment; all moments are one when blood has been drawn. Discarding perception as distraction and causality as whim she strikes at the essential foundation of her target. The stylist cannot activate this charm unless she has been reduced to her -1 wound category, and can only activate it a second or third time if she is lowered to her -2 or -4 wound category.
The stylist makes a decisive attack rerolling 1’s and 2’s. Damage from this attack ignores her initiative, instead dealing aggravated damage equal to her essence + her current temporary willpower. A target that takes its last health level of damage from this attack is destroyed utterly as if slain by Ghost-Eating Technique.

The Spiral Razor Steps
Cost: 10m, 1wp; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 5
Type: Simple
Keywords: Decisive-Only
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: The Subtle Cut
With transcendent strokes, she cut away her memory, her name, her art, her future.
The Numinous Transfixing Kata is a demonstration of her murderous arts, the Steps of the Spiral Razor are the culmination of those arts in practice.  This charm resolves in two steps.  First, the stylist allocates four attacks among her enemies within short range.  She then makes an initial roll of Charisma + Martial Arts, rerolling 1’s and adding Essence success to her total.  Successes on this roll are compared to the Resolve of designated targets, reducing the defense of each target by threshold successes.  A target that is already held by the Numinous Transfixing Kata cuts their final resolve against this display in half, rounded up.
Second, the stylist adds her successes from her initial roll to her initiative total, splitting her initiative equally between four attacks and resetting to base initiative at the conclusion of the 4th attack.  If all four attacks successfully hit, the stylist may reflexively activate The Subtle Cut as a fifth and final fifth attack if she meets its activation requirements.

Invoke the World Authors Vision
Cost: +5m, 1ahl; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 6
Type: Simple
Keywords: Permanent
Duration: Permanent
Prerequisite Charms: Four Score Bronze Frenzy, The Spiral Razor Steps
Perfection sighed the Maiden, cannot be grasped. 
Creation is only so wide and can encompass only so much.  Working backward from this principle the stylist leans on this limitation until it breaks. Expressing a series of techniques that surpass perception and causality, she forces reality to recognize her as beyond its purview.  This charm may only be activated on the same round that Ashen Dispatch of Patterns Form is activated.  Rather than crystalizing her anima into a mantle, the stylist vanishes into their own emitted energy, temporarily stepping outside existence.  On her action in the following round, a two-dimensional tear opens to allow entrance to an entity barely recognizable as the stylist.  This re-entrance is accompanied by a black-lit sun visible for leagues around; nothing but a solid chamber built of magical materials can contain the radiance.  
Stepping back into reality, her form is remade. In place of skin and nails, a translucent adamant shell encases her. Beneath the shell in place of muscle and bone, a prismatic mix of gasses and geometric planes dance within. Her face appears a blank slate, the direction of her gaze only recognizable by the pivot of their head. Should the stylist possess a natural anima its radiance is gone, overshadowed by a swirling mandala. Her new shape renders practical communication impossible.  She cannot speak, and any written medium attempts to communicate through displays incomprehensible glyphs like a kind of written glossolalia.
While under this state:
•She becomes wholly immune to any penalty which might apply to her attack or parry and may parry unblockable attacks or uncountable damage as if it lacked those descriptors.
• At the end of any round in which she is crashed, she may spend a point of willpower to return to initiative 1 and prevent being thrown from her form.
•She gains any initiative lost by opponents due to World-Axis Tread and treats everyone in short-range as if they were under the effects of Numinous Transfixing Kata.  
•She reduces the cost of Four Score Bronze Frenzy and Spiral Razor Steps to 7m, no willpower.
•Although she no longer sheds an Anima she may pay for charms that require it by paying 3 motes per anima level. Exalts do not receive the normal benefits of their anima while this charm is active.
•She cannot vocalize in a meaningful way, and cannot communicate in any known language. 

Evoke the Earth-Calligraphers Brush
Cost: +5m, 5i; Mins: Martial Arts 5, Essence 6
Type: Simple
Keywords: Form
Duration: Indefinite
Prerequisite Charms: Invoke the World Authors Vision
Perfection seizes you.
The edge of the sword is the threshold of the cut, she who controls this threshold is without fear or peer, she wields the horizon as a tool of her arts. If Invoke the World Authors Vision gives you the perspective of the Creator, Evoke the Earth-Calligraphers Brush gives you Her hand.
At the top of the round after using Invoke the World Author's Vision, the stylist may temporarily abandon that divine perspective to take up the pen of Creation, scoring their will across mountain ranges and cutting new patterns across the stars. The maelstrom of power that permeates her form transitions from her body to her blade, now radiant with black-light energy.
The stylist maintains the 20 mote commitment to Ashen Dispatch of Patterns Form and Invoke the World Authors Vision, but loses all benefits from both charms for as long as this alternative is active. 
In exchange, she gains the ability to make a withering or decisive attack against all enemies in a line out to medium-range, adding her essence in dice on the attack. Withering attacks treat her Overwhelming score as levels of damage rather than dice, with the stylist gaining initiative only from the most damaging attack. Decisive attacks do not factor her initiative nor reset her to base; instead dealing 5+Essence+Extra successes damage on a successful attack to everyone in range. 
On subsequent rounds, the stylist may expand or focus her assault. If expanding, she may either change the line of her assault or extend the attack an additional range band. If she focuses her assault the devastation of her strike becomes undodgeable and blockable only by artifact weaponry. Successfully parrying this catastrophic blow forces the target into an automatic disarm gambit roll of 3+Essence dice, successes flinging such weaponry a range band away from the wielder, or the wielder themselves if they cannot be disarmed. A target struck by the Earth Calligraphers Brush with a size of anything less than Living Landscape that takes 5+ damage from this attack is knocked prone. A focused assault ignores any merit or defense that would place a cap on decisive damage, her world-shattering blow can carve a pass through a plateau or cut a jungle into pulp.
During this time the stylist cannot move except to attack or parry, and sets her defense to 0 against any environmental or unblockable effect; though she may still clash such an effect through Iron Horizon Sublimation. 
While this technique is practiced the stylist’s blade is not merely a weapon; it is a transcendent expression of her destructive will. Although she has the same barriers to communication as Invoke the World Authors Vision, her every motion seems to fill the world with her intention. While this charm is active, her Guile is set to 1, and anyone within visual range of the stylist when they attack or defend may instantly understand the intimacy of the stylist that propels that act. Characters witnessing this phenomenon may choose not to believe the motivation behind her sky-wracking blows, but the stylist herself cannot be anything other than absolutely sincere.  Perfection demands nothing less.

 
Last edited by Kahbiel on Fri Mar 18, 2022 2:41 pm, edited 11 times in total.

Tags:
Five Fathoms Fall
Posts: 48
Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2021 8:41 pm
Has thanked: 3 times
Been thanked: 24 times

"Unless a stylist possesses hands like knives or dagger claws this style cannot be practiced unarmed and is incompatible with armor." - the "and" suggests that the incompatibility with armor only applies to a stylist who cannot practice it unarmed. That seems unintended?

Numinous Transfixing Kata:
"she rolls her initiative as a gambit with a difficulty of the target’s unmodified resolve" - I can't tell if this is intended to skip the to-hit and go directly to the initiative roll. If it is, it's way too reliable.
Because this goes against unmodified resolve and (Wits + Integrity), it bypasses all Resolve-boosting effects other than excellencies. I really don't like that. Giving the victim a dice pool of (Resolve x 2) could work better. (Also QCs don't have Wits or Integrity.)
"Actions he takes that interact meaningfully with any person, object, or idea except for the stylist while transfixed take a penalty equal to her Essence" - This is both vague and broad. Is stabbing the stylist with a sword interacting with the sword? Is stunting an attack as knocking the stylist into a wall interacting with the wall? Is attacking the stylist with Water Dragon techniques interacting with Water Dragon Style ideas? Is mentioning yourself in a conversation with the stylist interacting with yourself? It feels to me like it'd rip all the flexibility out of stunting and force very careful and boring descriptions, or just shut down social interaction. I'd probably flip the conditional to penalize things not involving the stylist, that seems cleaner.
Spiking instantly to Defining derangement seems pretty excessive. Doubly so with the methods of inflicting it being so easy. Hit-and-hide all but ensures the target will have a permanent Defining that the stylist can exploit for the rest of forever.

Iron Horizon Sublimation:
A reflexive withering clash on a style that permits dual-wielding light weapons? That's dangerously close to a perfect defense that eats big piles of Initiative from the attacker. Making it ticklong payonce is just pushing it even further over the top. And it doesn't cost willpower, so it's spammable. This is way, way too good. Even Solars don't get unconditional withering clashes. Compare this to Heavens Crash Down.

Tower Toppling Feint:
I think making this a withering attack makes it too accurate. I'd flip it to be a decisive attack that rolls initiative damage instead of lethal.
This is the second Charm that inflicts large and long-lasting penalties. I'm worried that a stylist might be really unpleasant to fight in a way that's just not fun for anyone.

Ashen Dispatch of Patterns Form:
I don't like that this is better at granting Legendary Size than the Lunar effect. Yes, it's higher essence. But I feel it's still stepping heavily on Lunar toes here.

World-Axis Tread:
And it's another defensive/penalty Charm. At this point the style is five for five on those, and I'm going to stop reviewing here.

This style feels like it's overbearingly focused on defense and denial, to the point that it'd be an absolute bore to play with. Enemies can't do anything to the stylist. Enemies can't do anything not to the stylist. It uses clashes and withering attacks heavily, meaning it bulldozes the opposed rolls that might be the only lingering point of interaction. It's lockdown the style. And lockdown just isn't fun.
I feel the themes are interesting, but when they're expressed only as defense/penalty lockdown tech it starts to get monotonous and stops feeling like it's developing on a theme and more that it's regurgitating the same principles. It needs to diversify into more interactive and vibrant effects and statements, instead of setting up layered only-I-matter fields.
Kahbiel
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2021 8:31 pm
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 5 times

Thanks for the reply, I'll try to answer the critiques.

After just a light read through it sounds like you're reading the style as a standard martial arts style rather than a sidereal martial arts style.  A lot of the balance issues subside if you take that into account.  But since  we don't have rules yet for SMA's and there's already been a removal of the distinction between Terrestrial and Celestial, the balance questions are more of a question about what the role of SMA is intended to be in 3rd edition.  The style is designed for characters to go toe to toe with the likes of Gajam-Un or Mahi-cara.  

Outside of that I'll go point by point.
Five Fathoms Fall wrote: Thu Feb 17, 2022 8:46 pm "Unless a stylist possesses hands like knives or dagger claws this style cannot be practiced unarmed and is incompatible with armor." - the "and" suggests that the incompatibility with armor only applies to a stylist who cannot practice it unarmed. That seems unintended? 

Noted, thanks for the correction.
Five Fathoms Fall wrote: Thu Feb 17, 2022 8:46 pm Numinous Transfixing Kata: 
"she rolls her initiative as a gambit with a difficulty of the target’s unmodified resolve" - I can't tell if this is intended to skip the to-hit and go directly to the initiative roll. If it is, it's way too reliable. 

It does jump straight to the initiative roll, just requiring the target to see the stylist.  As for being too reliable, this is also a simple charm, 8m, that doesn't restrain a target the way a true grapple does, and motes remain committed for the entirety of the grapple. 
Five Fathoms Fall wrote: Thu Feb 17, 2022 8:46 pm Because this goes against unmodified resolve and (Wits + Integrity), it bypasses all Resolve-boosting effects other than excellencies. I really don't like that. Giving the victim a dice pool of (Resolve x 2) could work better. (Also QCs don't have Wits or Integrity.)

That's intentional, the effect decouples the targets mental defense from principles and ties.  Looking back over the integrity charms I think there is a case to be made to point out that this charm can be considered a kind of magical curse or warping effect so that characters with access to that defense can utilize it.
Five Fathoms Fall wrote: Thu Feb 17, 2022 8:46 pm "Actions he takes that interact meaningfully with any person, object, or idea except for the stylist while transfixed take a penalty equal to her Essence" - This is both vague and broad. Is stabbing the stylist with a sword interacting with the sword? Is stunting an attack as knocking the stylist into a wall interacting with the wall? Is attacking the stylist with Water Dragon techniques interacting with Water Dragon Style ideas? Is mentioning yourself in a conversation with the stylist interacting with yourself? It feels to me like it'd rip all the flexibility out of stunting and force very careful and boring descriptions, or just shut down social interaction. I'd probably flip the conditional to penalize things not involving the stylist, that seems cleaner. 

I thought it was obvious that the intent of the charm was as a highfalutin fight me! kind of "taunt" ability, but to your point the purple prose isn't helping anyone if it makes the charm unclear.  Sounds like I'd be better off cutting it short.
Five Fathoms Fall wrote: Thu Feb 17, 2022 8:46 pm Spiking instantly to Defining derangement seems pretty excessive. Doubly so with the methods of inflicting it being so easy. Hit-and-hide all but ensures the target will have a permanent Defining that the stylist can exploit for the rest of forever. 

Oh!  Right; stealth charms.  Yeah, that's a good point and a really easy exploit.  Needs a lot of tinkering on that end, thanks.
Five Fathoms Fall wrote: Thu Feb 17, 2022 8:46 pm Iron Horizon Sublimation:
A reflexive withering clash on a style that permits dual-wielding light weapons? That's dangerously close to a perfect defense that eats big piles of Initiative from the attacker. Making it ticklong payonce is just pushing it even further over the top. And it doesn't cost willpower, so it's spammable. This is way, way too good. Even Solars don't get unconditional withering clashes. Compare this to Heavens Crash Down. 

Huh, I didn't think of looking at archery for clash comparison charms, good idea.  You're right that the base cost is too cheap and the withering-type too exploitable when you clash keywords and accuracy boosters.  Compering to Heavesn Crash Down I need to increase the cost to 6m, 3i and requiring an anima cost with every use rather than an optional cost to expand the protection.
Five Fathoms Fall wrote: Thu Feb 17, 2022 8:46 pm Tower Toppling Feint:
I think making this a withering attack makes it too accurate. I'd flip it to be a decisive attack that rolls initiative damage instead of lethal. 
This is the second Charm that inflicts large and long-lasting penalties. I'm worried that a stylist might be really unpleasant to fight in a way that's just not fun for anyone. 

That's a good point, and likely cleaner in the language too.  The penalties are in this one exclusively to prevent the stylists vulnerability to a crash reversal immediately after this charm resets her to base.  You've got a point about the large penalties though, something for me to consider in general.
Five Fathoms Fall wrote: Thu Feb 17, 2022 8:46 pm Ashen Dispatch of Patterns Form:
I don't like that this is better at granting Legendary Size than the Lunar effect. Yes, it's higher essence. But I feel it's still stepping heavily on Lunar toes here. 

It isn't quite legendary size.  She suffers onslaught penalties from attacks that exceed her defense and she's got no protection against effects that throw or knock prone the stylist and no way to utilize this protection against a legendary size creatures grapples.  Although the differences are piecemeal, I'd say they're as different from what Lunars do to access the traits of legendary size as what other characters do to access legendary size, such as piloting a warstrider.  
Five Fathoms Fall wrote: Thu Feb 17, 2022 8:46 pm World-Axis Tread:
And it's another defensive/penalty Charm. At this point the style is five for five on those, and I'm going to stop reviewing here. 

Well, ironically four of the remaining five charms are offensive; but I appreciate the feedback nonetheless.  Given your thoughts on the first five though you might find the remainder just as out of balance.
Five Fathoms Fall wrote: Thu Feb 17, 2022 8:46 pm This style feels like it's overbearingly focused on defense and denial, to the point that it'd be an absolute bore to play with. Enemies can't do anything to the stylist. Enemies can't do anything not to the stylist. It uses clashes and withering attacks heavily, meaning it bulldozes the opposed rolls that might be the only lingering point of interaction. It's lockdown the style. And lockdown just isn't fun. 
I feel the themes are interesting, but when they're expressed only as defense/penalty lockdown tech it starts to get monotonous and stops feeling like it's developing on a theme and more that it's regurgitating the same principles. It needs to diversify into more interactive and vibrant effects and statements, instead of setting up layered only-I-matter fields.

I am glad ye like the themes/language.  Mechanics I can fiddle with to get something balanced, but if it doesn't sound interesting/thematic there isn't very far to go with a SMA. A few points about the lack of clarity are good points, and Iron Horizon definitely definitely needs a change in its cost to be comparable to Heavens Crash Down.

Thanks for the in depth review.
Five Fathoms Fall
Posts: 48
Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2021 8:41 pm
Has thanked: 3 times
Been thanked: 24 times

Kahbiel wrote: Thu Feb 17, 2022 11:54 pmAfter just a light read through it sounds like you're reading the style as a standard martial arts style rather than a sidereal martial arts style. A lot of the balance issues subside if you take that into account. But since we don't have rules yet for SMA's and there's already been a removal of the distinction between Terrestrial and Celestial, the balance questions are more of a question about what the role of SMA is intended to be in 3rd edition. The style is designed for characters to go toe to toe with the likes of Gajam-Un or Mahi-cara.
I can't really do otherwise without there being any verbage specifying it's not just a higher Essence MA style - I acknowledge that SMA rules are pending, but until then they don't exist unless you make them. I've tried to assess these charms based off their Essence prereq and depth in the tree, without any other baggage from Siderealness.


Kahbiel wrote: Thu Feb 17, 2022 11:54 pmAs for being too reliable, this is also a simple charm, 8m, that doesn't restrain a target the way a true grapple does, and motes remain committed for the entirety of the grapple.
It doesn't need to be as good as grapple to be too good. It's large penalties with nothing the target can do about it.
The motes being committed doesn't matter - if the stylist isn't spending at least five motes on excellencying the control roll I'd eat my hat. Characters just don't have their mote pool go up enough in combat for an 8m early-fight commit to matter compared to an 8m instant.

Kahbiel wrote: Thu Feb 17, 2022 11:54 pmThat's intentional, the effect decouples the targets mental defense from principles and ties. Looking back over the integrity charms I think there is a case to be made to point out that this charm can be considered a kind of magical curse or warping effect so that characters with access to that defense can utilize it.
Many defenses against psyche effects work via Resolve. Resisting the Lure of Madness for example seems like it should work but due to this bypassing resolve doesn't. If the intent was to exclude Intimacies, I feel it'd have fewer side-effects to go against Resolve and then add an unmodified-by-Intimacies clause.

Kahbiel wrote: Thu Feb 17, 2022 11:54 pmHuh, I didn't think of looking at archery for clash comparison charms, good idea. You're right that the base cost is too cheap and the withering-type too exploitable when you clash keywords and accuracy boosters. Compering to Heavesn Crash Down I need to increase the cost to 6m, 3i and requiring an anima cost with every use rather than an optional cost to expand the protection.
I didn't either, I totally forgot about that Charm. I just ctrl-f'd my way through Core looking at the Clash effects.
I'm not sure an anima cost will do a lot to keep it in line, given that it costs enough motes to regenerate the anima it costs. The much larger mote cost should put a bit of a damper on it, but a stylist could still afford to spam it in a 1:1 fight.


Looking at the rest of the style:

Four Score Bronze Frenzy:
This has some of the Steel Devil problem. Unless you really clobber the first target, you're unlikely to have enough threshold sux to have a not-awful die pool for the second. Unless you really clobber the second target, etc etc. That said, it's well worth using even if you assume the followups miss. It really only costs 1wp, Double 7s is enough to ensure a lot of raw sux on the first blow, and any followups are just gravy.
I'm not sure how I feel about double 7s on an attack - I don't believe there's precedent. It's very very powerful, basically ensuring the first attack hits without much counterplay. I think I'd be inclined to just go unblockable+undodgeable at that point, honestly. That way there'd be at least some defense possible, and you'd be more likely to benefit from the followups. This is high essence, but most attack-better effects are low essence. There's not a lot of the attack-even-better tech that I think you expect this to have to compete with / to be required in high essence play.

The Subtle Cut:
See above about double 7s. Rerolling half your failures and double 9s feels massively excessive to me.

The Spiral Razor Steps:
This seems much more balanced, it could probably exist at E4 without issue. I like this one.
Given that this generates Initiative before attacking, I'd be tempted to pull the Perilous keyword off and let the stylist gamble with a usage from crash.
I'm not sure why a target would want to blind themselves (which doesn't normally penalize Defense anyways). Is doing so supposed to break Numinous Transfixion Kata?

Invoke the World Authors Vision:
The ability to instantly destroy anything not made of magical materials without a roll seems like a rather dangerous unintended side-benefit in the hands of a clever player. Autograph the wall and oops, ceiling's falling!

Overall, the style feels uninteractive. It wants to throw down an irresistible debuff or rush to World Author's Vision, and it doesn't need to engage with the enemy meaningfully to do so. I also feel it's spending too much time on raw numbers to the exclusion of other effects - it's very very heavy on accuracy and indirect defense. Even an E3 stylist can be nearly invincible due to spammable clashes against a penalized foe while they build towards Tower Toppling Feint. Once the attack Charms come online, it doesn't have to pretend it cares about the to-hit roll either.
I feel it's applying low-essence Charms logic to what high-essence Charms should look like, resulting in a basics-heavy approach but with with extra power. But that isn't what high-essence stuff generally looks like. E4+ Solar Melee isn't Excellentest Strike.
Kahbiel
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2021 8:31 pm
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 5 times

Let me start with although I don't agree with a lot of your critiques, I do appreciate you voicing them. Your comments have definitely improved the style from what it was, and forced me to better think about alternatives / how the charm language is coming across. However, my point about it being a Sidereal Style martial arts was less about a reference to rules that don't exist yet and more about appropriately scaling these charms. The way I see it, one can't pick these up without either fully mastering a separate martial arts style and/or cannot reduce the essence requirement for learning these charms through Supernal or other powers. In either case a practitioner won't be picking up these charms until late in the game, when other characters have similar access to powers at the right end of the power curve. Getting into specifics..

Numinious Transfixing Kata:
I've cleaned up and toned down Numinious Transfixing Kata. It now clearly states that it's a 3 step process, requires a high level gambit to pull off, and is clearer in what actions might or might not suffer a penalty.

Iron Horizon Sublimation:
I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on Iron Horizon Sublimation. After comparing it to Light on Dark Shield from Golden Janissary I've reduced the maximum amount of initiative a stylist can gain to no more than the Overwhelming score of their weapon, and thrown on a willpower point to the base cost of the charm rather than just the multiple-zone defense version.

Four Score Bronze Frenzy:
I changed the opening attack of 4 Score Bronze Frenzy to deal no more than the stylists current temporary willpower in damage. As for its comparison to Steel Devil, you're correct but that's intentional, I understand the criticism of that style but I don't think that warrants totally throwing out the possibility of that kind of mechanic.

The Subtle Cut:
I've reduced the potency on The Subtle Cut, changing the attack to only re-rolling 1's and 2's and reducing the damage to dice of Current Temporary Willpower + Essence.

Spiral Razor Steps:
Very cool idea on Spiral Razor Steps, perilous keyword removed. I've also simplified this one as well, removing the bit about turning away from the stylist and the clearing up what happens when this technique is employed against someone already transfixed.

World Authors Vision:
On Invoke the World Authors Vision, I think you're misreading the charm. Structures aren't destroyed, the bit about "shining through anything not made of the Magical Materials" refers only visual effects of the charm; it's just a cosmetic effect. Do note though that an Ashen Dispatch Stylist can already destroy a citadel with only a standard amount of effort; Tower Toppling Feint adds their current initiative to their strength score while in Ashen Dispatch Form for determining what she can anihlate with an act of destruction or throw at opponents. This did remind me that I need to include how the act of destruction aspect of the charm works if the stylist isn't in combat, so this commentary is definitely helping.

Style Summary:
For your general read of the style, I think that's in part due to a mis-reading of some aspects. The de-buff only works against one target at a time, if the ST is running a combat with just one antagonist vs a party of pc's with access to SMA that antagonist had better be Gajam-Un or a Thousand Forged Dragon. Under those conditions, these effects feel balanced to me.

Given how you were reading World Authors Vision I don't know how much your critique applies to that charm.

Tower Toppling Feint can happen once per foe, and resets the stylist back to base as well. If you're "building to" tower toppling feint then you're just prolonging the fight an extra 2 to x rounds at the cost of 5m and a wp + all of your initiative. It's there to act as a big red emergency button when you're facing off against a soak monster that's built up a mountain of initiative by attacking your low defense/soak allies. On the point of spamming charms, in my experience anything that costs =>5m is too expensive to spam reliably. As for to-hit issues I think you're exaggerating. Yes all the attack charms benefit accuracy, but they're also all either expensive (Bronze Frenzy and Spiral Razor) or hampered by limited use (Tower Toppling Feint or The Subtle Cut).

I don't agree at all that this is a "basics-heavy approach".
NTK creates a psychic grappling effect
IHS creates a clash that can defend multiple allies and turns aside uncountable damage effects
TTF utilizes all your offensive power in a desperate bid to a heavily advantaged foe
The form grants the stylist the benefits of legendary size without growing to legendary size. Not to everyone's taste I admit, but not a "basics" effect.
WAT creates an essence-gravity effect steals initiative, increases soak and chews through scenery
FSBF is a multiple attack charm that builds off the scenery-chewing theme of WAT while demanding a lot of luck from the initial attacks to be worth the effect
TSC creates an essence fueled attack that bypasses the standard initiative track to deal an existence-ripping strike
SRS builds on the ground covered by NTK, forcing victims to be held in thrall by the stylists technique as he carves a bloody path through them
WAV turns you into an engine of destruction while making it impossible to communicate, or do virtually anything but cut or block
ECB is basically Death Ray with a sword.

Yes, most of these effects have re-roll some failed dice or double some success effect, but to my mind that's in keeping with the combat as artistic expression theme of the style. On a similar note I'm not sure what kind of effects you think "high-essence stuff" does generally look like.
User avatar
Lillia24
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed May 11, 2022 12:00 am
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 4 times

So now that we actually have rules for SMA do you think you’ll write up some Enlightenment effects for this? That seems like the only thing the style is missing under current rules.
Kahbiel
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2021 8:31 pm
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 5 times

Lillia24 wrote: Sun Jan 22, 2023 11:55 am So now that we actually have rules for SMA do you think you’ll write up some Enlightenment effects for this? That seems like the only thing the style is missing under current rules.

Oh! I didn't think anyone cared enough to ask, and (much to my own sadness) the game I was in ended just before I had the opportunity to learn the charms.

Since there does seem to be some interest I'll take a look back at it. Given the power and Essence level of SMA in the draft I'll likely also reduce the essence level and overall potency of the charms. For better or worse the SMA's in the draft aren't quite at the level of potency I modeled Ashen Dispatch on.

Anyway thanks, I appreciate the interest.
User avatar
Lillia24
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed May 11, 2022 12:00 am
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 4 times

I really like the idea behind it and the themes, plus sword sma's are something I have a personal soft spot for! I'd love to see what you come up with for this one
Post Reply