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[Exalted] Questions about shaping combat and the creation-born

Kath

The Furthest Away
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Firstly, my players stay out.

In the Exalted game I'm running at the moment, the PCs are about to head deep into the Wyld on a journey to the Elemental Pole of Wood. En route, they will encounter the Sword Emanation of an Unshaped (Jubal the Hunter of the Whisperer in the Leaves, p.71 Graceful Wicked Masques). Being quite a violent chap, Jubal will engage them in Sword Shaping Combat, and attempt to steal their artifacts before driving them deeper into the Wyld.

I've read over the chapter on Shaping Combat in GWM, but I have a couple of questions about exactly how it should play out, and I'd appreciate insight from those who understand this a little better than me. For reference, I'm not using the Exalted 2nd edition system, but I'd like to preserve the writer's intent in how things should resolve. It's also worth noting that Integrity Protecting Prana has been nerfed, which explains why my Solar PCs won't just invoke that and smash Jubal's face.

Jubal will be attacking the PCs using a 4 dot behemoth (the Soul Eating Boar, p135 of GWM) and a small army of 'beastman' extras. From the PCs point of view, they'll be attacked by a giant boar, while from a mechanics point of view, Jubal is rolling a Sword Shaping Attack. The PCs can't actively defend (i.e. parry or dodge) but do get a pile of passive defenses by virtue of being creation-born. The PCs can be unsporting and use normal combat to try and cut the boar as he charges by, or Jubal if they're feeling clever (the boar can make normal physical attacks and parries/dodges in return, but Jubal will have to take a multiple action penalty if he wants too, flurrying together a [Dex + Melee] normal dodge with a Sword shaping attack). If they kill the boar, Jubal loses a 4 dot artifact and will get quite angry. If they kill Jubal, he'll been even more annoyed. However, Jubal might well be able to vex the PCs in the meantime.

This is where my confusion arises. What does it look like from the PCs point of view when they are vexed? My thought is that their artifacts are sent flying from their hands by the force of the boar's attack, into the arms of the waiting extras or Jubal himself. But it's also possible that vexing merely makes Jubal the 'legal owner' of the artifacts, and doesn't actually transfer the items physically.

Assuming that my first thought is right, can the PCs do anything to defend against the disarming? I suspect no - by entering the Wyld, they are bound by its rules, and one of those rules is 'you can't stop vexed items being taken away from you', even if you use the most reflexive reflexive anti-theft charm in the game (a couple of PCs are capable of banishing their weapons reflexively to Elsewhere).

If the PCs were raksha, at this point they'd be screwed. The only way they could back their gear would be to engage Jubal in shaping combat again - they would be incapable of retreiving their items any other way. Thankfully, the PCs aren't raksha, and so they can cheat, from a raksha's point of view. They can use Charms (what's that melee one that calls your sword to your hand?) or normal ability rolls to get their stuff back the 'Creation' way. All that Jubal can do about this is attempt to defend himself or run away (or use Ring combat and force them to stop, but we run into the same issue again).

Does this sound about right, or have I missed a fundamental part about how shaping combat should work?
 

Aaron Peori

Retired User
A successful sword shaping attack against a Creation born is defined as a perfectly successful robbery. So baring a perfect "you can't steal this from me" Charm there is nothing the PCs can do. If there is a perfect anti-theft Charm in the defenders, then resolve it via the IF,IO rules in the corebook.

Note that Jubal can attack exactly one of the PCs in the scene with a Sword Shaping attack unless he takes multiple action penalties (or uses an Extra Action Charm) to do so.

Note that defenses against shaping effects (such as Integrity Protecting Prana) will work against Sword Shaping attacks.

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Epsilon
 

zenten

Active member
Validated User
Note that defenses against shaping effects (such as Integrity Protecting Prana) will work against Sword Shaping attacks.
No, it won't. Integrity Protecting Prana does nothing to protect your stuff, unless your stuff immediately hurts you in an undogeable, unblockable way. It does prevent the effects Cup and Ring shaping attacks though.
 

Phigment

Faceless Handle
Validated User
What it looks like to the PCs is going to depend on how Jubal narrates the scene, and what they do.

It might be that the boar hits them so hard their weapons go flying away from them.

It might be the boar charges them, and they fight it off, but in the course of fighting it off their daiklaives become stuck in its unnaturally tough hide, and it gallops off with their weapons still embedded in its wounds.

It might be that the boar is guarding a bridge they must cross, and they can't beat it, so they give up their weapons as toll to cross the bridge.

It might be that, while they're distracted by the boar showng up, tricky little sprites made of twisted leaves and the fingers of naughty children sneak up behind them, take their weapons, and replace them with identical copies made of hard sugar.

That's the thing about shaping combat. It's flexible.
 

Kath

The Furthest Away
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Thanks very much for the clarfication, everyone, especially about treating vexation like a perfect theft. At least two of the players have never even heard of shpaing combat before, so I want to make sure that I understand 100% how things work so that I can explain it them more easily.

I do have another pair of questions though:
* What does it feel like IC to be take Sword damage? The more valourous you are, the more Sword damage you can take, so I could see Sword damage being a feeling of fear and cowardice growing within you, with the sure knowledge that you're being beaten and that there will be a price to pay. I could see it being quite odd though, describing a vast boar charging the party down, and inflicting no physical wounds, just a growing sense of dread.
* Can the boar make a normal physical attack as it charges by? If the PCs were raksha, there'd be little point in doing this, as any damage inflicted by the boar would be temporary and could be shaped away. However, Jubal hunts enough Creation-born to understand that that's not the case with them, so could he order it to so? And as the boar isn't the one making the shaping attack, it doesn't have to take any multiple action penalties to do so either.

Note that Jubal can attack exactly one of the PCs in the scene with a Sword Shaping attack unless he takes multiple action penalties (or uses an Extra Action Charm) to do so.
Now that I feel I've grokked how the combat should work, I'm going to browse through the Sword charms in the book and pick some cool stuff for Jubal to be able to do mechanically. I'm assuming that a powerful Emanation like him will be able to do some kind of multi-attack relatively easily though.

EDIT: I know that you can only do 1 shaping action per scene if the creation-born are present, but does this restriction apply to shaping attacks? They operate at the abstract tick scale, so my understanding is that you can make as many shaping attacks as you want per scene against the Creation-born? If not, I could also see that being quite cool, as Jubal tries to force scene changes so that he can attack them again.

What it looks like to the PCs is going to depend on how Jubal narrates the scene, and what they do.

<snip cool descriptions>

That's the thing about shaping combat. It's flexible.
Thanks for the examples - shpaing combat is fun, but even with GWM, it's a bit tricky to get your head around *exactly* how it plays out, especially with graceless Creation-born involved.
 
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Aaron Peori

Retired User
I do have another pair of questions though:
* What does it feel like IC to be take Sword damage?
Like you were just mugged.

Remember that Shaping Attacks are also Shaping Actions so Jubal gets to define whatever he wants to happen. He could even kill the PCs in the course of this attack.

The trick is that if the PCs spend a wp they can act as normal, only suffering a -(Jubal's Essence) internal penalty to all actions as they struggle against the effect.


The more valourous you are, the more Sword damage you can take, so I could see Sword damage being a feeling of fear and cowardice growing within you, with the sure knowledge that you're being beaten and that there will be a price to pay. I could see it being quite odd though, describing a vast boar charging the party down, and inflicting no physical wounds, just a growing sense of dread.
Unless the Creation born has a Grace they don't take Shaping Damage at all. A Shaping Attack is an all or nothing effect. Either he Vexes them or he doesn't.

* Can the boar make a normal physical attack as it charges by?
Yup. However if he stops to engage in physical combat the PCs can take their stuff back. While a Vexing is a perfect robbery, the PCs can just use normal actions to grab their stuff from the boar as it runs away. Creation-born are tricksy like that.

But yes, you can also try to kill the PCs. Note, however, that if they kill the boar he looses the boar.



Now that I feel I've grokked how the combat should work, I'm going to browse through the Sword charms in the book and pick some cool stuff for Jubal to be able to do mechanically. I'm assuming that a powerful Emanation like him will be able to do some kind of multi-attack relatively easily though.
Are you using the original printing or the errata? If using the original you want Endless Armies of the Storm (pg 210).

I know that you can only do 1 shaping action per scene if the creation-born are present, but does this restriction apply to shaping attacks?
Yes. An Attack is a type of Action.

You can flurry, but you take multiple action penalties or you can use Extra Action Charms.

They operate at the abstract tick scale, so my understanding is that you can make as many shaping attacks as you want per scene against the Creation-born? If not, I could also see that being quite cool, as Jubal tries to force scene changes so that he can attack them again.
When Creation-born are present the abstract time concept collapses entirely. They are annoying like that.

Thanks for the examples - shpaing combat is fun, but even with GWM, it's a bit tricky to get your head around *exactly* how it plays out, especially with graceless Creation-born involved.
It can get a bit complex, yes, but is essentially simple. Just remember that a shaping attack is made against a Graceless Creation-born as if they had a DV of 0 (so the only reason you bother to roll is to determine extra successes for damage) and then roll the damage against the Creation-borns innate defense (see page 126). For Lunars this means he will have to roll more damage successes then their (Willpower + Essence + 4). A Deep Wyld Horror will help here, since it gives him a +16 to his base damage. You may also want to include Unparraled Terror Attack (pg 210 again) to increase the base damage even more.

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Epsilon
 

Kath

The Furthest Away
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Remember that Shaping Attacks are also Shaping Actions so Jubal gets to define whatever he wants to happen. He could even kill the PCs in the course of this attack.

The trick is that if the PCs spend a wp they can act as normal, only suffering a -(Jubal's Essence) internal penalty to all actions as they struggle against the effect.
I hadn't fully realised that the scope of shaping attacks extended to saying your opponent's dead, but it does make perfect sense. Should be a great way to help to convey the wierdness of the Wyld both IC and OOC.

Unless the Creation born has a Grace they don't take Shaping Damage at all. A Shaping Attack is an all or nothing effect. Either he Vexes them or he doesn't.
Ah yes, you're quite right. One PC will have a forged grace at this point, and it's always possible that the rest might decide to join in (the first PC is forging his sword grace as his sacrifice for Celestial Sorcery).

Yup. However if he stops to engage in physical combat the PCs can take their stuff back. While a Vexing is a perfect robbery, the PCs can just use normal actions to grab their stuff from the boar as it runs away. Creation-born are tricksy like that.

But yes, you can also try to kill the PCs. Note, however, that if they kill the boar he looses the boar.
That's exactly what I envisage happening - Jubal may well suceed in vexing one or two PCs, but they shouldn't have much trouble at all getting their stuff back (the party consists of three Essence 4 Solars and one Essence 4 Sidereal, and two of the Solars have a *lot* of combat charms). And the risk of actual death is fairly low - I don't see a single Emanation being *that* threatening, even in the Middlemarches or Deep Wyld.

Are you using the original printing or the errata? If using the original you want Endless Armies of the Storm (pg 210).
I'm using OreX, so neither ;). I'm going to read over the fluff of the sword charms mostly, just to get a feel for how powerful they are. I hadn't realised until last night that GWM had recieved so much errata though, especially the complete removal of Glamour Resistance (which I had intended to convert over).

Yes. An Attack is a type of Action.

You can flurry, but you take multiple action penalties or you can use Extra Action Charms.

When Creation-born are present the abstract time concept collapses entirely. They are annoying like that.
Right, that makes sense. So Jubal can flurry as many times as he wants, but he's only got one action to play with. To get any more, he needs to move things on to a new scene.

Now just to hope that this plays out as well as I hope it does - we've had a couple of very talky sessions, so it's time for a bit more action, and what's more action-packed than fighting someone who uses a giant boar as a weapon?
 
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