Here’s more from the first Marst Chronicle playtest report. The PCs are still heroic mortals here, so there’s no use of Charms; they’re still working solely within the framework of the baseline combat system. I’ve edited the report to remove digressions and to eliminate references to specific mechanical elements that I’m not authorized to spoil. I hope that it remains informative nonetheless!
“First off, the most frequent comment I got was that [combat] was fun. I have waited years to have said that about an Exalted combat again :).
“The combat was the 3 PCs against 7 bandits. I used the bandits individually instead of trying out battle groups, but that is coming, rest assured.
“The combat began with the bandits sneaking into the caravan area in hopes of robbing the traveling merchants. Other than Karis, the rest of the guard—a mere 15 men—were mostly not paying great attention, as this caravan route is rarely attacked. When the call to arms was finally issued, the bandits were already upon them, and only the PCs were prepared to oppose them.
“The combat began with Karis splitting her actions and quietly finding a shadow to fire upon a bandit from. This, coupled with [REDACTED], let her strike from ambush, which we all agreed worked well and liked that it only really worked once per combat, before [REDACTED]. The fight ebbed and flowed nicely. The archer danced away from several rushes while building her [combat momentum] up before unleashing several devastating attacks—some coupled with social actions to scare the bandits away now that they were wounded, others to incapacitate foes without killing them.
“Here I will note that I got several comments on how much [REDACTED] seemed to add to the depth of combat. We enjoyed that there are options other than “harm the bad guy,” and even better that we are encouraged to make up our own [REDACTED] and use them as we need. For example, rather than killing one bandit, [Karis’ player] decided she wanted to shoot an arrow into his clothing, effectively pinning him to the side of a wagon. This was easily made into a [REDACTED] as we went and it worked like a charm using a variation of the new grapple rules.
“Mato got himself embroiled into an interesting back and forth fight with a bandit, which involved using the scenery to stay out of close combat reach and the trading back and forth of multiple thrown attacks, before [Mato’s player]—using [combat momentum] he had built up from a fleeing bandit—struck his foe unconscious with a powerful blow to the head on a very cool and well-timed boomerang stunt.
“With White Ink, we found that moving between Melee and Brawl attacks worked quite smoothly, and that greatswords make you feel really badass when you hit with them. His larger soak also seemed to work as a solid balance to his lower [defense], as when he was hit he did not ever lose much [combat momentum] as his light weapon-wielding foes had issues rolling many dice against him.
“Not everything was rosy for the PCs though, and if not for them managing to hold out long enough for the other guards to join in, things were setting up to be rough for them, as Karis was [REDACTED] and Mato and White Ink were both headed in that direction. The combat also only took about 40 minutes, and that includes several pauses to look up rules, time for questions, and some moments of “Oops” where [combat momentum] was not adjusted correctly. So all in all it went pretty quickly, and I expect it to get better and better as we all get used to it.”