View Full Version : Preliminary Idea for Fixing Perfect Defenses in Exalted 2e; Please Help Improve!

2017-08-22, 09:49 PM
(Copied over from my identical post on the Onyx Path forums)

(Note: This rule works best when applied alongside other lethality-reducing rules, my favorites of which are giving triple or so the initial health levels, buffing Ox-Body and its equivalents, and making certain Reflexive Charms like Excellencies free to use without mandating their presence in a Combo.)

So. Perfect Defenses. A really cool idea, in the right contexts. Exalted are totally the type to, say, get smashed into a giant crater by a thousand relentless strikes from the volcano god's boulder-sized fists, only to walk back out with little more than rips on their clothing and superficial scuff marks.

On the other hand, implementing this mechanically is difficult. Make Perfect Defenses too cheap and spammable, and people won't save them for those badass moments because they can just nullify all attacks ever (doubly so given that the base system makes it so easy to make generic attacks auto-kills as is). Make them expensive one-offs and they become almost pointless as enemies just fire off the same big attack again next round and you're made of paste all the same. But they also should still scale at least generally, so that no-selling a Primordial's Creation-shattering assault is a feat of greater merit than parrying the Death Combo of that Essence 5 deathknight.

So here's my preliminary idea. Please, do me the favor of dissecting it and helping me make it better if there's anything worthwhile to the idea to begin with.

The core tenet of this idea is defining, within the system, the idea of Ultimate Offenses. This is a necessarily subjective category defined as:

1) any offensive action(s) taken in a round that have at least a reasonable chance of taking out all (or perhaps just most?) of a character's maximum health within that single round. (Hell, actually, it might work better to calculate whether the attacks would do enough damage to qualify and THEN use the Perfect Defense, but that's an awful lot of extra rolling and seems kind of un-fun.) This covers the offense of a single opponent over an entire round, so you can use a single Perfect Defense to block a single massive attack, or a "death of a thousand cuts" style flurry that would nonetheless add up to being lethal, for the same cost.

2) Social/Mental attacks of similar "utterly crushed all at once" levels of potency.

3) Any undodgeable and/or unblockable attack, regardless of its lethality.

A Perfect Defense is activated by paying the Essence cost (which will be discussed shortly) and rolling your defensive Attribute+Ability against a Difficulty of the foe's Essence (minimum 1 if you're up against an unenlightened mortal or something, but I have serious concerns if unenlightened mortals are pumping out Ultimate Offenses). Or maybe Essence+offensive Ability if we're gonna be hardcore about it. Excellencies would certainly be allowed (and probably mandated) in this context. If you succeed, you successfully defend against the attack, leaving yourself entirely unharmed.

After a particular Ultimate Offense has been blocked with a Perfect Defense, you need not re-activate the Charm to block that same assault (Combo, particular Charm or spell, deadly weapon flurry, what have you) for the remainder of the fight, but if it is used again, you must either succeed at the same skill roll again or pay the Essence cost again or both (I'm not sure which is more fair; input please!) to block it once more. For an entirely separate attack that also qualifies as an Ultimate Offense, you must activate the Charm again, but there is no limit to how many Perfect Defenses you can have established during a fight. You might be able to withstand the Abyssal's Death Combo and turn the fight back around with your own incredible moves, but if you're a low-Essence Exalt up against the Unconquered Sun, even if you can impressively stand against his first strike, he has like at least a dozen different Ultimate Offenses to paste you with, you WILL burn out way before he does.

As for the cost of activating a Perfect Defense to begin with, my current thought is that it costs motes equal to the foe's Essence (or Essence+Ability as discussed earlier), with discounts and surcharges based on if your own Essence is higher or lower than your opponent's. If your Essence 4 Solar fights an Essence 4 Abyssal, he can establish a Perfect Defense for four motes (or as many as 9 if Ability is added to the cost). If the Abyssal is Essence 5 instead, it'll cost six motes, five for his permanent Essence rating, one for being one rating below. (Up to 11 if Abilities are included.)

I'm not sure if this is too cheap. The idea is to achieve a sort of positive feedback loop; "nuke it from orbit" style huge attacks are still cool in the right context (since lots of supernatural threats can't have Perfect Defenses, and the attacks will work fully against those major foes who are too strong to consider your attacks Ultimate Offenses) but aren't going to be TOO popular or spammable since you don't know if any given enemy will pull a Perfect Defense on you. That, in turn, will popularize the "wear you down over the course of a real fight" builds, so Perfect Defenses won't be mandatory to take and can be cool and distinctive in their own right. On the other hand, letting loose on somebody with a Perfect Defense isn't a HUGE loss for the guy who wants to use his cool nuke, because the enemy will be shedding significant motes too, albeit fewer of them.

What do you guys think so far? Am I on to something here, or is the whole concept a sham?