Sailing the Five Skies
High Level Battle
An example of a high level battle between an elder Sidereal and an Elder Lunar.
Each exalt is ~300 years old, with ~1700 xp. However, neither is purely focused on combat, so they don’t necessarily have every nasty charm and combo available at this scale.
For some reason we won’t go into, Water’s Gift has taken it upon himself to murder the Sidereal named Simon. Using his extensive array of tracking skills and charms, he manages to locate Simon living under a resplendent destiny in a small town just southeast of Nexus. After observing Simons habits, and noting the Second Circle Demon bound to defend Simon’s place of residence, Water’s Gift decides to ambush Simon during his daily routine, hoping that Simon will try to maintain his cover at first and choose not to heavily use essence.
As Simon goes about his daily routine, he suddenly gets a chill, as the charm Prior Warning informs him that he will soon face danger. His roll of Wits+Awareness results in 4 successes, so Simon has 8 minutes warning. He activates Supernal Awareness, perfectly detecting all essence wielders within 600 yards for the rest of the scene. Noting a few nearby, Simon changes his destination to a place outside town, making sure that he stays away from any essence wielders in his path. When he gets there, he activates Propitious Martial Arts Alignment, investing 2 motes. With his bracers, Simon now has a total of 14 essence committed, all of which is his personal pool. He is also down one temporary willpower. His anima banner is not flaring, and he proceeds to go berry picking, secure in the knowledge that he will sense any danger coming.
Water’s Gift notes with some confusion that Simon has not passed by his usual spot, and sets off to continue his hunt. He quickly finds Simon’s scent, and tracks him to the berry orchard. Now, Water’s Gift is nobody’s fool, so he assumes something is up. However, as far as he can tell, Simon is simply picking berries all by himself, with no reinforcements noticeable by Water’’s Gift’s supernatural perceptions. So Water’s Gift prepares himself for the battle, activating Relentless Lunar Fury with the following Fury-OK charms:
Golden Tiger Stance, Furious Hound Pursuit, Burrowing Devil Strike, Become the Water’s Envy, Frenzied Bear Fortification, Lightning Flash Methodology.
In addition, Water’s Gift has active the following scene length charms/knacks:
Steadfast Yeddim Meditation, Heightened Hearing Method, Instinctive Dexterity Unity.
Water’s Gift has a total of 44 essence committed, 26 of which is personal. However, since he only committed 28 recently, he is able to spend it so that his anima banner is still below a noticeable level. He is also down one temporary willpower.
For later reference, Water’s Gift will activate with his war form the following charms/knacks.
Claws of the Silver Moon, Bruise Relief Method, Halting the Scarlet Flow, Armor Forming Technique, Adder Fang Method, Eye of the Cat, Constant Quicksilver Rearrangement
These will cost a total of 29 motes
To begin his attack, Water’s Gift is going to enter his War Form use the combo “The Best Defense”. The description of his attack is as follows:
While Simon unknowingly picks berries, a small fly buzzes randomly near him. Without warning, the fly is suddenly a massive, silver, vaguely humanoid duck billed beast which in a feat of impossible acrobatics clamps its clawed hands on Simon’s shoulders while digging it’s hind claws into his lower back. It then shows Simon the true fury of the platypus, messily quartering him in a spray of blood.
The storyteller thinks that this description is a bit overzealous, noting that there is still a possibility for Simon to defend, however both she and Simon’s player agree that the phrase “true fury of the platypus” warrants a three die stunt.
Simon declares his defense, activating his massive combo, “Impudence Punished” with the following description:
As the claws of Water’s Gift descend upon him, Simon twirls and hurls a handful of berries into the Lunar’s eyes. He then shoots out from between the Lunars claws like a wet bar of soap, skidding to a halt over 50 yards away in a copse of trees
The Storyteller decides that this is an adequate two die stunt, and decides to let the dice decide who’s version of events prevails.
Water’s Gift is making a three attack flurry. Each attack is unblockable and undodgeable due to Lightning Stroke Attack, and has an additional 4 successes, 3 from 2nd Dex and 1 from Relentless Lunar Fury. In addition, each attack is horribly poisonous, because Adder Fang Method is activated.
Simon detects the unexpected attack using Expected Pain, and activates both Joy in Adversity Stance and Blade of the Battle Maiden, committing 24 motes for 12 extra dice on his martial arts attacks. He is using his perfect dodge Duck Fate to avoid the first attack, and then using Walking-On-The-Dragon-Lines Defense to escape the rest of the flurry. He releases his commitment to Supernal Awareness so that he can regain those motes later.
Water’s Gift has an attack pool of 30 dice, adding 4 successes. However, before he rolls, Simon activates Duck Fate. Simon then rolls 11 dice, adding 2 dice from his stunt, and due to his ascending destinies adds 1 success and succeeds on 6s. Deciding to not at all leave this to fate, Simon spends 4 more motes on 2nd Dodge, adding two more successes. He rolls his 13 dice, getting 7 successes for a total of 10, against a target number of 6. Simon then channels conviction to increase his Strength+Athletics by 5, so that his activation of Walking-On-The-Dragon-Lines Defense allows him to skid away 60 yards.
He regains 10 motes from Conviction Essence Replenishment, but can’t regain extra essence from Joy in Adversity, since the attack did overcome his dodge DV of 0.
This should put him out of the range of the rest of the flurry, however, such escapes only succeed if the attacker does not have the movement to keep up with the defender. Since Water’s Gift currently has a movement of “However far Simon moves +1 yard”, he paces the Sidereal easily, and moves on to the next attack.
Water’s Gift is now rolling 29 dice, adding 4 successes. Simon decides to Duck Fate again, channeling a conviction for 5 extra dice, for a total of 18 dice which succeed on 6s, plus 1 success. Distressingly, he only rolls 6 successes, for a total of 7. Simon breathes a sigh of relief and regains another 10 motes of essence from Conviction Essence Replenishment.
Water’s Gift is now rolling 28 dice, adding 4 successes. Simon decides to Duck Fate again, channeling a conviction for 5 extra dice, for a total of 18 dice which succeed on 6s, plus 1 success. He rolls 9 successes, for a total of 10, dodging the last attack and regaining another 10 motes of essence from Conviction Essence Replenishment.
So what’s the final count?
Water’s Gift has 73 motes of essence committed, and has spent 21 motes of essence and 2 temporary willpower. He did not “Succeed” at his stunt, so he regains no essence.
Simon has 39 essence committed and has spent 39 essence and 5 temporary willpower. However, he has also regained 30 essence, and chooses to regain another 4 from succeeding at his stunt.
Both Exalts erupt in a magnificent display of essence, their respective animas spiraling into the sky in a cyclone of bright blue and purple light.
Simon is rolling 20 dice and succeeds on 6s. He decides to enhance his roll with the 2nd awareness excellency, spending 12 motes for an additional 6 successes
Water’s Gift is rolling 11 dice and doubles his successes. He reflexively activates Keen Hearing Technique to add two more successes, before the doubling.
Simon rolls a ridiculous 13 successes, for a total of 19 successes.
Water’s Gift rolls an equally ridiculous 8 successes, adding 2 for 10. However, he can only add 6 more successes, because the mighty platypus is not well known for its sense of hearing.
Simon goes first, with Water’s Gift acting two ticks later.
Simon spends a temporary willpower and releases a prayer strip into the air. He then performs an impossibly complex kata and vanishes with his prayer strip.
Water’s Gift is confused. By all of his senses, Simon has disappeared, and Water’s Gift can sense even things which are impossible to detect. Simon has either decided to leave, using Avoidance Kata, or something very bad is about to happen. Water’s Gift guards.
The Prismatic Arrangement of Creation
Three ticks after he vanished, Simon reappears in an eruption of Sidereal essence. He has committed 30 more motes, concurrently activating Prismatic Arrangement of Creation Form with Four Magical Materials Form and Soul Fire Shaper Form, and committing one more mote to activate his anima power. His activated Perfected Kata Bracers blaze with ancient runes, and he quickly moves to end this pathetic battle.
Simon acts on tick three, as does Water’s Gift, aborting his guard. However, Simon always goes first in situations like this, so he attacks.
Simon has exactly 2 motes of unspent essence remaining, so instead of activating a charm he flurries three attacks, using his perfect center to channel temperance through each attack (conveniently regaining 30 motes in the process). He activates the combo Impudence Punished, assuming he’ll have essence to take advantage of its defensive benefits soon enough. Simon is now at zero willpower, so his player decides to try a ridiculous stunt to facilitate its recovery.
The description is as follows:
Simon leaps onto the branch on a nearby tree, hooking his toe under it and spinning his body around the branch deceptively fast. He arrests his motion by ripping his claws into his Lunar assailant’s back, tearing long gashes out of its flesh before coming to a halt embedded in its bone.
Water’s Gift responds by once again activating “The Best Defense”, this time using Hungry Eagle Method to allow him to counterattack against every attack Simon makes, augmenting it once more with Lightning Stroke Attack. He then grins, his player noting that Simon must first succeed at his action before he gains motes from Temperance Essence Replenishment. Water’s Gift decides to stunt, figuring that Simon should at least go out with a bang, or maybe a squelch.
The description is as follows:
As Simon performs his acrobatics, Water’s Gift turns and raises one massive arm, catching all ten of Simon’s tiny claws in his rippling muscles. He scoffs at these pathetic excuses for “claws” and twists his arm, pulling Simon to one side while catching Simon in the pelvis with his other clawed hand, tearing the arrogant Sidereal in half.
Both stunts warrant two dice, and the Storyteller leaves it up to the dice to decide which reality asserts itself.
Simon is rolling 44 dice, succeeds on 5s, adds 1 success, subtracts 6 from Water’s Gift’s DVs, and rolls twice using 3rd Martial Arts, picking the best result. Water’s Gift ignores the first 3 points of penalty to his DV, and adds another three to it using 2nd Dex, and two from his stunt, bringing him to a total of 14. Simon rolls, getting 31 and 29 successes, choosing 31 for a total of 18 extra successes, bringing his raw damage up to 37L. This is impressive, but Water’s Gift’s Germ of Adamant Skin makes it bashing, and his ridiculous 38 bashing soak reduces it to ping damage. Simon rolls 6 dice, adding 2 successes from Five Jade Fury, and one success from his anima banner. He gets a surprising 4 successes, for a total of 7, minus 1 from Frenzied Bear Fortification. Water’s Gift grunts, smiles, and fights back.
Since the attack action hasn’t “resolved” yet (we’re still in step 9), Simon only has those two lonely motes of essence remaining.
Water’s Gift declares that he’s channeling valor, rolling 37 dice and adding 4 successes. His attack is undodgeable and unblockable. A single hit, in addition to doing massive amounts of damage, will also inject a dose of lethal venom, of Water’s Gift’s own devising. What exactly can Simon do to not be torn into itty bitty pieces?
The charm Soul Fire Shaper form allows one free use of any of its prerequisites each action, which does not count as a charm use or as his action. The Storyteller decides to rule that “Free” is a redundancy, and does not imply that the charm costs no essence. Luckily for Simon, his Elder Sutra and his starmetal Perfected Kata Bracers give a combined discount on charm use totaling 12 motes, to a minimum of 1 mote. 12 motes just happens to be the minimum essence required to disrupt Water’s Gift’s combo using Sequential Charm Disruption. Simon rolls Dexterity+Martial Arts, adding 2 dice from his stunt, succeeding on 5s and adding 1 success. He totals 5 successes, but he needs 6! Luckily, he gets a reroll from the 3rd excellency, which gets 7 successes, for a total of 8. Simon annuls the Lightning Stroke Attack, not having the essence to annul both that and Hungry Eagle Technique, and assuming that Water’s Gift has the essence to reactivate the reflexive Hungry Eagle Technique immediately.
SO! Water’s Gift rolls 37 dice and adds 4 successes, getting a total of 22 successes. This is just below Simon’s massive PDV of 24 (23 right now, due to his action). Worse, Simon now gets to roll his essence (now 10) using Joy in Adversity. Strangely, he only gets 2 successes, but every mote counts. Simon presses his attack.
Simon is now rolling 43 dice, adding 1 success, and deciding to use Five Jade Fury to add a whopping 14 additional successes to the attack roll. Water’s Gift’s PDV is currently 12. He could still counterattack, but he can no longer use Lightning Stroke Attack, and he doesn’t think he can break Simon’s DV, so he refrains. (The other possible ruling is that he can use LSA, but Simon can still annul it by paying equal essence, since it’s part of the same combo. Due to Joy in Adversity Stance, this still wouldn’t go well for Water’s Gift)
Simon rolls 33 and 27 successes, picking the 33 for a massive total of 48 successes. This succeeds by 36, giving Simon a raw damage of 55B. After soak, he’s still rolling 17 dice, +1 success from his anima power. He rolls, and gets, strangely, only 3 successes, adding and subtracting one, for just 3 bashing damage.
Third Attack Simon is now rolling 42 dice, adding 1 success, and deciding to use Five Jade Fury to add 14 additional successes to the attack roll. He also remember the fierce attack mechanic, and takes a -1 external penalty to add 3B to his damage. He rolls 25 and 12 successes, picking the 25 for a total of 39 successes, giving him a raw damage of 51, which gives him 13 post soak dice. Water’s Gift remembers that he has Becomes the Water’s Envy active, and perfectly dodges this last attack.
Since Simon’s stunt was successful, he regains one precious, precious willpower.
Where are we now?
Simon has a total of 70 essence committed, with 45 “spent” and one left over. He then regains 34 essence, bringing him up to 35. He has one willpower remaining, as well as 2 temperance channels and 2 conviction channels.
Water’s Gift has 73 motes of essence committed, and has spent 33 motes of essence and 4 temporary willpower. He did not “Succeed” at his stunt, so he regains no essence. He has also taken 9 Bashing Damage. He has 48 motes of essence remaining, 4 channels of valor, 5 of conviction, 6 willpower, and 22 health levels remaining.
Water’s Gift is realizing that Simon is much more skilled at the one on one duel than he is, and even though he heals 1 bashing damage every tick, plus 2 every action, he doesn’t think he can keep this up.
While he could probably escape with little effort, Water’s Gift doesn’t believe in such cowardice. If he is the lesser predator, then he will fall this day. That said, he really should stop this trend of letting it be a fair fight. Water’s Gift considers his options.
He could activate Wound Mastering Body Evolution, rendering himself immune to artifact martial arts weapons, which, interestingly, is all of Simon, at the moment. However, that wouldn’t make it any easier to HIT the bastard, and that is the ultimate problem Water’s Gift has been having.
It’s time to come up with an unorthodox approach. The charm Iron Tyrant Impact enhances a feat of strength to break or destroy an object. With the additional expenditure of one willpower, this charm also removes any quality from an object that would render it unbreakable. Water’s Gift also has Lightning Flash Methodology active, which allows him to perform feats of strength as miscellaneous actions, instead of extended dramatic actions. With this in mind, Water’s Gift declares that he’s using Iron Tyrant Impact, and describes the following stunt:
Water’s Gift leaps into the air, cresting in a graceful arc as he leans back and flips upside down. He then rockets downward, essence building up into a bright corona around him. He misses Simon completely, by over a dozen feet, and instead slams his fist into the ground. There is a brief calm, then birds everywhere nearby take flight, and the earth begins to shake
The Storyteller is willing to call this a three die stunt, but Simon’s character just isn’t feeling it, so the stunt counts for two dice. Water’s Gift regains four essence, and technically has a Strength+Athletics score of Infinity+2 for the purpose of breaking objects.
So what does that mean? There isn’t a set way of deciding what happens when you succeed on a feat of strength to break Creation. To decide what happens, the Storyteller thinks of the largest object in creation to which the Feats of Strength rules could possibly apply, and decides to apply similar physical effects to the surrounding area as if that object were “broken”.
That object is, in fact, the Penitent.
So, the ground crumbles away beneath Simon and Water’s Gift, as massive cracks radiate for miles out from the impact point. Trees are uprooted, buildings collapse, the tremors are felt for scores of miles in every direction. The cracks widen as the soil around them liquefies and poors in, large chunks of rock with it. Miles below, a battle between darkbrood and brave jadeborn is brought to a sudden halt as they are all crushed by massive cave ins.
The storyteller rules that each player must succeed a Wits+Athletics roll difficulty 6 (Water’s Gift’s Essence) to not fall into the opening crevasse, and that even safe areas count as unstable footing, rating 4. However, the storyteller has even more in mind, which she will reveal later.
Simon rolls. He is extremely hesitant to use his last willpower, and is not certain he can describe a nifty enough stunt to regain another. The stunt is as follows:
Simon catches hold of an uprooted tree as it is caught between the walls of the crevasse, pulling himself up and running along its length to jump to safety as its branches crack and it slips free.
The storyteller thinks this fits a two die stunt pretty well, so Simon rolls 12 dice for Wits+Athletics. The storyteller decides that one of his ascending destinies applies, reducing his TN to 6. Simon still doesn’t like his odds, so he activates Duck Fate. The storyteller reminds him that the activation roll still has a difficulty of 6, but Simon’s player argues that another of his ascending destinies will apply now, giving him an additional success. In order to ensure success (and knowing that he has a two die stunt) Simon activates the combo Impudence Punished, so that he can buy extra successes using the 2nd dodge excellency. He buys 1, meaning he needs to roll 4 successes on 13 dice. He rolls 7, and escapes to a relatively safe patch of land.
Water’s Gift spends one willpower to channel conviction and describes the following stunt:
Water’s Gift digs his moonsilver claws into the side of the crevasse and holds on tight, stoically bearing through the avalanche of dirt and rock running into the widening crack.
This is a one die stunt, so Water’s Gift rolls a total of 19 dice. In a moment of bizarreness, he only rolls 4 successes, and is born into the crevasse!
The storyteller rules that he takes a base of 21B levels of damage from the fall (terminal velocity 25B – 4 successes) and then must deal with the extreme conditions at the bottom.
21B piercing damage is reduced to 4B levels by his armor, and reduced further to 1B die by his stamina. He takes one damage, it turns out, but doesn’t really notice.
The storyteller rules that being at the bottom of gorge in an earthquake is a 1L/Action, Trauma 5 environmental hazard, and has an unstable footing rating of 7. However, Water’s Gift has Graceful Crane Stance active, and then activates Center Mastery Technique in his next action to ignore being crushed.
So where are we now?
Water’s Gift has spent 20 essence, 2 willpower and 1 conviction, taking 1B. He has also regained 4 essence, and healed 12B. this leaves him at 24 motes of essence, 4 willpower, 4 valor, 4 conviction, and 33 health levels remaining. He is currently being buried under tons of rock.
Simon, on the other hand, has spent 10 essence and one willpower, regaining 1 willpower, leaving him at 25 essence, 1 willpower, 2 conviction and 2 temperance. He has yet to take damage. His athletics is high enough to maintain his footing, but the Storyteller rules that he is stuck on an island of crumbling land, surrounded by steep drops into the crevasse. She decides that the smallest gap is about 35 yards. Yes, that’s massive, but Simon was only four yards away from the epicenter of this destruction, so he should feel lucky that he was allowed to avoid falling at all.
As Simon promises himself to learn Forgotten Earth at the next opportunity, and Water’s Gift digs himself out (conveniently healing to full in the process), the Storyteller unveils another effect of the earthquake. Simon feels a chill and hears a rumble in the distance, steadily getting louder. Water’s Gift unearths himself just in time to turn and see the Grey River raging down one of the cracks. Suffice to say, he is swept away.
Water’s Gift is actually totally cool with this, he’s built to rock out in the water. The debris picked up by the river doesn’t hurt him due to Center Mastery Technique, and his War Form has Water Adaptation and Gills, meaning he’s totally ok down here. The storyteller rules that a maelstrom of this proportion requires athletics 7 to maintain control in while swimming, but Water’s Gift conveniently has a specialty which raises his effectively to 9. We’ll get back to him in a bit.
Simon is in a less pleasant position. The raging river is quickly eating away at the edges of his island, and the storyteller informs him that it will collapse sometime in the next five minutes. Luckily, even though it is disintegrating, the Instability Rating only raises to 5, so Simon doesn’t have to flurry to act at all. Simon thinks that he can wait for his island to topple into the crevasse, and as it falls (it’s about 60 yards up) it will tip close enough for him to jump to safety. At least, of sorts.
Water’s Gift can’t reach Simon without climbing up about 20 yards of cliff face, giving Simon ample warning of his attack. He instead waits, noticing as well that the island won’t last long.
Five minutes pass, and the rage of the Grey River never slackens. Then, with a lurch, the island tips to one side, and falls into the gorge. As it falls, Simon tries to jump to the edge of the gorge, while Water’s Gift attempts to catch him in mid air.
The descriptions are as follows:
As the island begins to collapse, Simon waits for the perfect moment, where the island gets just close enough for him to jump, and leaps across
Which is worth 1 die.
As Simon leaps, Water’s Gift surges out of the roiling water below, breaching like a dolphin to pass in front of Simon as he crosses the gorge, shape shifting into a massive whale to block Simon’s path, causing the Sidereal to bounce helplessly off and tumble into the water .
Which is worth 2 dice.
The storyteller rules that Simon will be able to make the jump, but that as the island collapses, its instability goes up to 6, meaning he must flurry his jump with an attempt to stay standing. This is an issue, since he only rolls 10 (11 +1 stunt -2 for the flurry) dice, has no useful charms for it, and none of his destinies apply. Obviously, he spends that last willpower and channels conviction
Simon rolls 15 dice and needs 6 successes. There are two possible ways this could go. Either he succeeds, and the battle continues, or he falls into the raging waters, and gets torn apart by Water’s Gift. Water’s Gift would essentially have a position bonus of 3 (+ to his DV, – to Simon’s), and Simon would have to flurry every action with an athletics check that he would mostly fail, as the storyteller rules that the waters have only died down a little, to 6. Eventually, Water’s Gift would get in a lucky shot, and he only needs one.
So lets assume he succeeds (Actually, he rolled only 3 successes, but statistically he should succeed)
Resolving Water’s Gift’s stunt is a little odd, but workable. The storyteller rules that Water’s Gift must roll Wits+Athletics (To time it right so Simon can’t react) at a difficulty of Simon’s Strength+Athletics (As a rough measure of how fast Simon is crossing the space). Water’s Gift spends 6 essence to gain 3 bonus successes, and gains one more from Relentless Lunar Fury. He rolls 14 dice, getting 7 successes for a total of 11, well above Simon’s Strength+Athletics of 7.
Simon declares that he’s using Expected Pain to see this coming and be able to react, and runs along the whale’s bulk to leap off of it. Water’s Gift tries to roll to bear Simon down with him, and the Storyteller rules that this will be an opposed Dex+Athletics rolls, with Water’s Gift subtracting three successes (Much as a warstrider would when attacking a small opponent).
Simon is rolling 11 dice, counting 6’s as successes, since one of his destinies applies. Water’s Gift is channeling conviction to roll 20 dice, subtracting 3 but then adding 1 success from relentless lunar fury.
Simon gets a ridiculous 9 successes. What the heck.
Water’s Gift gets 11 successes, reduced to 9. So they tie.
How do you break ties? Do you roll a die and call even or odd? Do you compare stats? This is a good question, and Simon’s life depends on the answer.