I’m Telling This Story So I Can Tell You A Better One

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

I changed my mind on doing Vampire bloodlines. Instead, I had a much worse idea.

Exalted 3rd Edition: I’m Telling This Story So I Can Tell You A Better One

This review is much different than any review I’ve done in the past three years, and has a lot more in common with my early reviews…because I’m going to be clear right here. I hate a lot about this book. Exalted 3rd Edition has many functional systems, and mechanically it is the best incarnation Exalted has ever had – but that’s a bit of damning with faint praise. 2nd Edition was barely functional, and 1st Edition, while usable, suffered from the flaws of being a White Wolf product of the 90s and early 00s. This edition, the core systems are – mostly, with a few exceptions – usable. Solar Charms are not. Solar Charms are barely readable.

To make things worse, the original lead developers of Exalted, Holden Shearer and John Morke, are scum. They engaged in sexist hiring practices, mistreated their freelancers – some of whom are my friends – and held books hostage to being paid for work they were never asked to do. Morke sexually harassed several freelancers, and Holden helped him cover it up and continues to help him downplay it and shills for his patreon. Their writing is frankly awful, with most of the readable portions of the book reliant on the work of the people they hired, and they managed to make the actual core subgroup, which players were meant to see first and which, for quite a long time, were the only playable group in the entire game, unplayable. They have thankfully been fired, and the pair of people hired to replace them are much better writers and human beings. Later books are actually quite good, which shocked me – I had sworn off Exalted during the original Kickstarter, years ago, for the behavior of Morke and Holden and their treatment of sexual topics in ways lacking any sort of respect.

But before I can tell you about what made me come back to Exalted, about what enthuses me for it now, I have to cover this book. Without it, you will not have context. You will not understand. And unfortunately, this is not a good book. It has good portions. It has very, very bad portions as well, and they take up at least 200 of its nearly 700 pages – likely more. That’d be the Charms section of the book, easily its longest chapter. There is, funnily enough, not a GM advice chapter at all – it was cut for space. Space for more Charms. As was quite a bit of the text from other chapters, from my understanding. This book is 686 pages long. Of that, some 30 are an introduction, another 34 serve to introduce all the splats you wont’ be playing as with this book, 62 are setting material, 14 are chargen, 48 are explaining your character sheet, 72 are rules, 176 are Solar Charms, 68 are Martial Arts Charms and Sorcery, 86 are antagonist rules and examples so your GM can actually run NPCs at all, and the last hundred are equipment rules, primarily taken up by Evocations, which are Charms tied to your equipment. By weight, the book is about 50% Charms.

This and a PDF of backer-funded Solar Charms are the only official material Holden and Morke produced. They gave commentary on those charms in the PDF, some of which was literally mocking the people who wanted them. So that’s fun. Holden also notably told people he wouldn’t give them “bad rules” even if they asked for them. (What people wanted was chargen that didn’t encourage them to make horrifically unbalanced stat layouts because it’d be more XP efficient later, incidentally.)

But I haven’t even begun talking about the book. And hey, at least the art is good. It legitimately is, after they got rid of the Poser and plagiarized stuff. The is a very pretty book if you can’t read the text. The book begins with an overview of the setting’s history, but I can summarize it much more quickly than the book itself does. Exalted has always had something of a problem with overwrought prose, and this book is definitely not an exception. Originally, the world of Creation was made by ancient beings who created gods as their slaves; the gods empowered mortal humans with their own power in order to rebel against those creators, killing some and imprisoning the rest. These humans, called the Exalted, then were given rule over Creation, while the gods retired to Yu-Shan, the City of Heaven. In the First Age, the Exalted created many societies, full of terrors and wonders grander than any imagining, and these splendors are lost in the current state of Creation, with only a few surviving, impossible to replicate. For 5000 years, the First Age stood with the Exalted as its benevolent rulers. (Benevolent-ish. This book is presented from a distinct perspective that rather blatantly favors the Solars; later books will continue this trend but be more upfront about the fact that they’re going to be presenting the history in the best possible light for the characters the book allows you to play. The problem doing this with the core is it wasn’t clear at first that this was the intent.)

However, the fallen creators of the world had laid a curse on the Solars, the greatest of the Exalted, which made them grow wicked, insane and spiteful, turning them into tyrants. They turned on their subjects and each other, and the other Exalted saw no choice but to rebel. The Dragon-Blooded, weak but numerous, rose up against their masters and slew them. Most of the Solars’ Essence was sealed away in a jade prison, to prevent them from reincarnating after their daths. Some escaped, and the war between the Dragon-Blooded and Solar remnant lasted decades, known to those that recall it even happened as the Usurpation. Much of the First Age’s wonders were lost forever. Eventually, the Solar remnant were hunted down and slain, and the world was left a smoking ruin. The Sidereal Exalted, who had allied with the Dragon-Blooded, helped them to keep the world from dying with the First Age, though it was greatly reduced. In its ruins, the Dragon-Blooded raised up the Shogunate, a military government that lasted for centuries, lacking both the grandeur and madness of the Solars’ realms. The Sidereals hid themselves away, erasing their very existence from memory by twisting the stars themselves, and created the Immaculate Philosophy, a new religion that would reinforce the rule of the Dragon-Blooded by painting them as spiritually superior to normal people. The Sidereals hid as monks and advisors, guiding the Shogunate. They watched for the few Solars that continued to reincarnate, arming the Dragon-Blooded to find them and kill them.

Then, the Great Contagion came, a disease that spread over the entirety of Creation. Nine out of ten people in all of existence died, as did nine out of ten of every animal. There was no cure. Cities were littered with corpses, and it seemed all would be lost. Meanwhile, the Wyld, the chaos outside of Creation, from which it had been birthed, came in force. The beings of the Wyld, the Fair Folk, swept across the land in legions, following on the heels of the Contagion. Entire stretches of existence were destroyed, lost forever to the endless chaos of the Wyld. Even the Lunars, the greatest surviving Exalted, could not stop their onslaught. As the Fair Folk marched on the center of Creation itself, all seemed lost, until a single Dragon-Blooded officer braved the defenses of an ancient Solar weapon system. Somehow, she took control of it, awakening the Realm Defense Grid and annihilating the Fair Folk armies, sending them back into the Wyld. In one fell swoop, she became the most powerful person in the entire world. This woman, now known as the Scarlet Empress, replaced the fallen Shogunate with the Realm, her own personal empire.

By alliance and politics, she conquered her foes, and over the course of multiple marriages, she forged a dynasty of heroes, making her own daughters into the leaders of noble houses that would serve her. She set her children against each other to keep them under control while weakening those outsiders that were not loyal to her or bound to her by blood. Her forces, over several decades, conquered much of the Threshold, as she named all lands that were not the central island of her Realm. Only a few could resist her – a coalition of heroes in the East, those realms protected by Lunar Exalted, that kind of thing. She drained the wealth of her new colonial holdings to fuel her Realm’s growth, with the Sidereals kept close as her allies and advisors. She made the Immaculate Philosophy her state religion and she ruled for 763 years, never once allowing her empire to falter, despite the best efforts of the Lunars.

Five years ago, the Scarlet Empress vanished, and the Realm began to fall into chaos. She had never built it to be able to handle her absence – the opposite, in fact. There was no order of succession, because she never intended to die. The Great Houses of the Realm each hope to control who takes the throne, and the Realm’s legions have been called back from the frontiers while a figurehead regent has been put on the throne. Many of the client states of the Realm have begun to withhold tribute or rebel, and the Lunars escalate their attacks. The Deathlord Mask of Winters has risen on a mountainous corpse-beast throne to sack the city-state Thorns, slaughtering the Realm soldiers that defended it and taking it for his own. The Fair Folk begin to rise once more, ready to return to war. And after a thousand years, the Wyld Hunt that tries to murder all fledgling Solars and Lunars has weakened and lapsed. The jade prison that once kept the Solar Exalted imprisoned has been broken, and they begin to reincarnate once more, returning to Creation now, in its darkest hour.

That’s the broad overview setting history, and…well, even I am getting overwrought and I just cut it down from ten pages to about one. Instead, I will share with you the suggested fiction the book gives us, which is…well. It’s something. Some choices are good, others are…I reel with confusion at them. Also at the editing, which seems to bold words almost at random.

Night’s Master, Tanith Lee, and also a side mention of her entire Flat Earth series. Sure, fine.
Hawkmoon, Michael Moorcock, and then a side mention of Jewel in the Skull as a story with a perfect example of a Solar, which I don’t think is actually possible because Solars are just…boring? Like thematically, their power is I Am The Best At All Human Endeavor.
The Complete Pegana, Lord Dunsany, which is traditional – it’s where a lot of the inspiration originally came for the spirit-gods of Creation.
Imajica, Clive Barker. I know nothing about this.
The Black Company, Glen Cook. They insist that Creation is a “gritty world, unromantic in its description” which is, um, a hot fucking take about a fantasy world trying desperately to be about lost and reclaimed wonder and glory and high martial arts action.
A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin. Yeah. Yeeeeeeah.
The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, Robert E. Howard. I should probably note that Morke fucking loves Conan, and admittedly reworking Sorcery to be more Conan-esque wizardry isn’t a terrible idea but the entire, um, issues with Conan go entirely unremarked here in favor of effusive praise.

Classics, which aren’t fiction, apparently.
The Iliad, Homer. Okay, sure.
Journey to the West, Wu Cheng’en. Again, okay, sure, but I think y’all missed a lot of the religious messages here.
The Book of Judges. As a Jew, let me just say: whoa there, buddy, you have definitely misunderstood some stuff, especially if you think the Judges and Prophets represent Solars. Yeah, Samson exists, but…no, no that’s not the thing here. Solars are actually an exceptionally poor analogue for the way Judaism treats these guys! And…and ugh, that’s the problem with these devs, it was always about the surface read and their own idiosyncratic hot takes.

Manga, also not fiction. And shockingly short because these guys hate being told how anime Exalted is.
Inuyasha, Rumiko Takahashi. Inuyasha.
Claymore, Norihiro Yagi. Have I mentioned that Morke is desperately in love with the idea that Creation is grim and gritty?

Ninja Scroll. Okay, sure.
Howl’s Moving Castle. Howl is apparently a perfect example of a Twilight Caste Solar sorcerer.

TV and Movies
The Bride with White Hair (1993). Okay, sure, wuxia movies should be represented. This one is not high on my personal list of high fantasy wuxia, but tastes vary.
Rome (2004). “Shows off the decadence, filth, and corruption of the ancient world’s most enlightened government” is a phrase used here and hoo fucking boy there’s some issues to unpack in that.

Video Games
Dynasty Warriors. Okay, sure.
Final Fantasy VII. Given they made an effort to make magitech far less of a thing this edition and FF7 is all about the tech feel, this is quite possibly the weirdest FF they could pick.
Dissidia Final Fantasy, which makes sense given the combat system.

Next time: The Guys You Can’t Play As

What Even Is An Exalted

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: What Even Is An Exalted

The Exalted are champions and heroes – in the classic sense, because many of them are just fucking awful people. They are the mortal champions of the gods, though there are several gods that can choose Exalts and so they come in a bunch of types. They are all set apart from mortals once chosen. They are exceptionally powerful, can heal from any wound that doesn’t kill them, almost never get sick, and age extremely slowly. Most fundamentally, however, they are able to channel Essence, the mystic power that flows through all things. By commanding Essence, they perform miracles. Some are innate, others magic learned over time, by mastery of some task. These latter are Charms, special feats that the Exalted can call on for great power.

We get a sidebar on exactly how long an Exalt can live. It varies by type. Dragon-Blooded live, on average, 250-300 years, though with mastery of their own Essence they can live longer – Mnemon, eldest living daughter of the Scarlet Empress, is nearly 400 and to all appearances has shown no signs of old age. Solars and Lunars both average between two and three thousand years before old age sets in, albeit with a lot of variance due to Essence mastery, anagathic drugs of the First Age and magic. Sidereals live three to five thousand years, and cannot extend their lives further than this. Exigents vary wildly, and Liminals seem to have no consistent lifespan, with some lasting only mortal lifetimes and others remaining active for centuries. Abyssals, in theory, will live forever, but no Abyssal has existed for longer than five years. All this said, few Exalts ever die of old age. Violence and misadventure are their primary killers. Regardless of age, they retain the physical capabilities of youth for most of their lives, and few show any signs of aging until their final decades, and remain hale and vital until their last few years.

The experience of becoming Exalted is also called the Second Breath, with the First Breath referring to the gaining of a mortal soul, which happens when a child takes their first breath. Exaltation is, functionally, a renewal and rebirth, uplifting you into a heroic state. Solars, typically, are people who have accomplished great things or excelled in some discipline before Exalting, though not all are. Some merely have immense potential, without having had the chance to exercise it. It is rare for Solars to start out as utter monsters, but not unknown. The Unconquered Sun’s blessing is inconsistent in who it picks, morals-wise. While most Solars think themselves good, their definitions vary wildly. The actual moment of Exaltation is typically one of great stress, danger or chaos, in which the newborn Solar feels a rush of energy and instinctively begins to draw on Essence for the first time. Their Caste Mark explodes forth from their brow and their anima banner – basically, a glowing aura of power – quickly builds to its full height, where it will remain for several hours. Often, the Exaltation grants the power needed to survive and triumph over whatever difficulty faces the new Exalt. There are no age requirements or limitations, nor any based on social status. While all Solar Exaltations are gifts of the Unconquered Sun, he usually doesn’t pass on a message when he does it – just the power. The exception is Zenith Caste Solars, who universally receive a short proclamation of the Unconquered Sun that tells them why they were worthy of his blessing and orders them to go forth and make the world better. This is because the Zeniths are the priestly caste of the Solars.

For other Exalts, the experience of the Second Breath is usually similar, but with key differences. Dragon-Blooded must have some trace of the actual lineage blessed by the Elemental Dragons in their veins, and the Dragons never speak to their chosen. Lunar Exaltation is similar to Solar, but Luna always speaks to their Exalts. Sidereal Exaltation is slower and more subtle, taking place over days or even weeks and accompanied by omens, dreams and portents. Abyssals are chosen at the moment they would die, and are given a choice – become Abyssal or perish. Liminals are weird, no explanation. Exigents are each unique. Very helpful, those last two.

A new concept for 3e is ‘Essence Fever,’ essentially the experience of wielding your natural Essence. It urges Exalts to act, and in specific ways based on what type of Exalt they are. Exalted are simply not going to sit there and do nothing most of the time, because their Essence pushes them to do things. As Exalts grow older, their Essence Fever tends to dim, as they come more in control of their own internal power. However, young Exalts especially are pushed to be always doing. Solars feel this as a sense of cosmic transcendence when they wield their power, which pushes them to pursue glory and victory, to always become more than they were. The experience of being a Solar is one of transcendent selfhood, always humming with joyful power. Abyssals are noted to feel similarly, but theirs is an Essence of pure darkness, thrilling in death and gothiness. They feel death as a constant companion, which makes all the experiences of life seem brighter and more vivid by comparison.

Exalts are either Celestial (more powerful) or Terrestrial (less powerful). All Celestial Exalts are marked by a Caste Mark, a symbol that appears, glowing, on their forehead when their Essence flows strongly. In the First Age, they were symbols of office and marks of pride, and they can be brought forth at will with but a moment’s focus of Essence. Dragon-Blooded do not have Caste Marks, per se, but instead have a bunch of elementally themed markings on their bodies, such as bright red hair and glowing eyes for fire, green eyes and lips or living wooden fingernails for wood, or a constant slight breeze billowing around them for air. Some Exigents have Caste Marks while others have markings closer to the Dragon-Bloods (though I, Future Mors, note that the current devs have said Exigents will not have Castes), and Abyssals have the Solar marks but black.

We also get a brief overview of the shit you might own – Artifacts, which are your magic gear, Demesnes, which are naturally occurring places where Essence bubbles out of the landscape and produces magic land, and Manses, which are when you built a geomantic palace on top of a Demesne to channel its power via the lost arts of mystical architecture and interior decoration. And then we move into describing what Exalts exist, with the note, again, that at the time of publishing, Solars were it for play. The next to come out, we are promised, is Dragon-Blooded in the book Dragon-Blooded: What Fire Has Wrought…except that that book still isn’t out, though a full text manuscript was released last year for its Kickstarter, managed and written entirely by the new devs, well after Morke and Holden got fired.

Solars, The Guys What You Can Play As, come in five flavors: Dawn Caste, who are warriors and generals, Zenith Caste, who are priests and leaders, Twilight Caste, who are craftsmen and wizards, Night Caste, who are assassins and spies, and Eclipse Caste, who are diplomats and travelers. Solars are able to do anything! They can wield any weapon with skill and can learn any kind of martial art, even the highest and most esoteric Sidereal Martial Arts. They can learn any Sorcery, including the pinnacle that is Third Circle Sorcery. They are able to wield any kind of Artifact with equal skill, regardless of what it’s made of, for their Essence is the biggest and bestest. They are even able to force the Wyld to take shape as new lands, due to their intense vision and leadership. Their themes are…let me check my notes…anything. Glowing yellow.

Play one of the Solar Exalted if you want... posted:

  • to be a reborn hero of legend, forging a new destiny.
  • to be a master of martial arts, sorcery, or Evocations.
  • to be a forger of nations, armies, religions, wonders, or even worlds.
  • to face enemies on all sides, and struggle against an ancient curse.
  • to be mightiest among the Chosen.

Abyssals have identical caste marks to Solars, except black instead of gold. Their flavors: Dusk Caste, warriors and killers, Midnight Caste, death cult leaders, Daybreak Caste, craftsman and necromancers, Day Caste, spies and assassins, and Moonshadow Caste, emissaries and diplomats. They are known collectively as Deathknights, agents of the ancient Deathlords, who are ghosts of the First Age bound by the will of the Neverborn, the dead remains of those Primordials slain in ancient prehistory. Not all serve such masters, however, with some Abyssals riding out alone. Abyssals are usually pale white, obsidian-black or ash-gray in skin tone, because the Abyssal Exaltation makes you super goth. They tend to either become extremely sexy or gross as fuck. They are not undead, however, but alive, and “some are moved by a strange romance, finding beauty and joy in the bleak silence of graveyards.” They’re goths. They are either cruel or gothique or both. Most follow a code of chivalry, which they instinctively sense with the Essence of death, spreading the fear of death by sparing people occasionally or giving sermons about oblivion, despair and futility.

Play one of the Abyssal Exalted if you want… posted:

  • to walk with death as your constant companion.
  • to be a warrior-poet of macabre passions and dark romance.
  • to be a master of necromancy.
  • to be a champion of the dark lords of the Underworld.
  • to uphold the chivalry of death.

Dragon-Blooded are the chosen of the Five Elements. They are weaker than the Celestial Exalts, but vastly more numerous and with elemental powers. They come in: Air Aspect, quick-thinking and subtle, Earth Aspect, patient and resilient, Fire Aspect, passionate and active, Water Aspect, adaptable and deceptive, and Wood Aspect, vital and dangerous. They primarily organize around dynastic lineages, as their power is inherited by blood. In the Realm, they are run as the Great Houses, in the military nation of Lookshy they are the gentes, and in many minor nations they form ruling or leading bloodlines. They possess the greatest wealth of any Exalts, as a whole, for the Realm is the world’s lone superpower and possesses more First Age technology than anyone else, while Lookshy maintains weapons inherited from the Shogunate. They are at the apex of most societies, born to wealth and power in the Realm, and even outside out free to exercise their abilities without any fear of calling down the Wyld Hunt. Plus, I mean, who doesn’t love being a bender? Elements are a strong-ass theme. Future Mors notes that this is largely still accurate.

Play one of the Dragon-Blooded if you want… posted:

  • to challenge the five elements that move in your blood.
  • to be embroiled in the intrigues of a dynastic family.
  • to be a mighty scion of a world-spanning empire.
  • to be openly venerated as Prince of the Earth.

Lunars are the chosen of Luna, the great moon deity, and once they had five castes, as the other Exalted do. In the fall of the First Age, they shattered and remade themselves to better suit survival in a hostile world, however, and now they have three and a half flavors: Full Moon Caste, who wield physical power as warriors, athletes and survivors, Changing Moon Caste, who use the social power of guile, beauty and charisma, No Moon Caste, who use the mental strength of cunning, intellect and will to control the world of thought and spirits. The other flavor, Casteless, goes unmentioned here. Lunars in the core are defined by their bond to the Solar Exalts, for they were created to be guardians, spouses and seconds to the Solars, but in the fall of the First Age, they changed, the fury of their loss boiling into their very Essence and driving them to eternal vengeance on the Realm, though some Lunars are able to harness that fury to other ends. They are organized into the Silver Pact, a loose alliance dedicated to destroying the Realm. Their powers revolve around shapeshifting into people and animals, being terrifying barbarians and champions of the outsider, and wielding the power of chaos…in the core. Future Mors notes that the Lunars text has abandoned or redefined much of this description. Lunars are driven by anger, yes, but not the residual anger of the Usurpation for many of the younger ones. Rather, they are driven by rage at the oppression their peoples face, or the offenses against them personally, or the depredations of the Realm on their families. The word ‘barbarians’ is not used at all except in an explanation for why it is not used. (Morke had a love of the word, to go with his love of Conan, and refused to really address the large number of racism issues surrounding its common use.) And the Solar Bond does not define them, but rather serves as an option players can use or not – including the option to have the Solar Bond represent rivalry or enmity rather than friendship, especially since the Lunars have been around for millennia without many Solars at all…or just not to have one, because there’s more Lunars than Solars.

Play one of the Lunar Exalted if you want… posted:

  • to be a master shapeshifter, wearing a thousand stolen forms.
  • to be the inheritor of an ancient vendetta, empowered by rage to be nearly unstoppable.
  • to walk the length and breadth of Creation with a freedom few others can claim.
  • to be treated as a living god by barbarian tribes.

Next time: Sidereals, Liminals, Exigents, and ~the mystery Exalted~ (that everyone already knows the names of)

Teasing Shit Only Works When We Don’t Know What It Is

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Teasing Shit Only Works When We Don’t Know What It Is

Sidereals are the chosen of the Five Maidens of Destiny, each goddess of a specific stellar body. Flavors: Chosen of Journeys, who serve Mercury and oversee the fates of travelers, roads and movement, Chosen of Serenity, who serve Venus and oversee the fates love, marriage and separation, Chosen of Battles, who serve Mars and oversee the fates of armies, conflict and bloodshed, Chosen of Secrets, who serve Jupiter and oversee the fates of secrets and revelations, and Chosen of Endings, who serve Saturn and oversee the fates of death, destruction and ending. Sidereals are the weakest of the Celestial Exalted and the least numerous, yet the wield the power of fate and causality. They are known for being consummate martial artists, equaled only by Solars and only if those Solars have Sidereal teachers to bring them into the secrets of Sidereal Martial Arts, and can wield the power of the stars and astrology against foes to control their very destinies. They operate secretly out of the Heavenly City, Yu-Shan, and know the truths of the world, though they are split into the Bronze Faction (who support Dragon-Blooded hegemony and the Realm via the Immaculate Philosophy) and the Gold Faction (who would like to use the returning Solars to rebuild the world’s glories, using their own Cult of the Illuminated).

Play one of the Sidereal Exalted if you want… posted:

  • to exercise uncanny control over destiny.
  • to be a wise, inscrutable stranger to all that you meet.
  • to master ancient, secret martial arts of incredible power.
  • to live in Heaven, and command the awe of gods.

Liminals are tied to the elements of life and death, made by mortal creators trying to resurrect the dead. They’re…Prometheans. They just straight up stole Promethean to be Exalts. Flavors: Blood Aspect, created out of lust, greed and ambition and so passionate and good at binding, Breath Aspect, made out of regret or repentance and so reactive and able to possess and motivate, Flesh Aspect, who are made out of rage, insanity or vengeance and therefore are aggressive and able to transform, Marrow Aspect, made due to curiosity or obsession and so calculating and perceptive, and Soil Aspect, made from sorrow, yearning and despair and so introspective and masters of decay and omen. Liminals have no place in the world naturally, and…they’re Prometheans, so humans come to hate and fear them over time and exposure. They are made out of patchwork corpses and can replace parts of their own bodies to gain power, but become horrifying as they use Essence and reveal their true nature. As long as their brain is intact, they can revive from death, unless they drown. They are tied to their creator, linked by dreams and drawn back to each other, and when the creator dies, it causes Problems unless the Liminal can link to a new living person.

Play one of the Liminal Exalted if you want… posted:

  • to be created rather than born.
  • to have a strange, powerful, patchwork body.
  • to explore what it means to be human, and alive.
  • to hunt the dead who walk among the living.

Exigents are new, and honestly the only new Exalt type I consider to be actually important and good. They are unique Exalted, Chosen by gods who wield a fraction of the Unconquered Sun’s gifted power to create them, and are blessed by that patron god. Most Exigents are one-of-a-kind, with power that is shared with no other, though a few gods have multiple Exigents. Their power varies wildly, with most being Terrestrial but a rare few being on par with a Celestial Exalt. The Exigence costs the gods that create Exigents, often consuming them utterly and always weakening them, so Exigents are not made lightly. Exigence is not as permanent as other Exaltations – few Exigents reincarnate as most Exalts do or spread via blood as Dragon-Blooded can. The transition of power from one Exigent to their successor is rare and strange. Some of the Exigences are stolen rather than gifted by the Unconquered Sun, and may be corrupted or polluted by forbidden or dark gods. The examples: Strawmaiden Janest, the Harvest Exalt, who was chosen by a small god of fields to defend a farming village and now wanders the world with her mystic scythe, Nurlissa, Chosen of Masks, who traded her face for Exaltation and whose powers take the form of magic masks that alter her abilities, the Bleak Warden, Chosen of the Seals, who was Exalted by a god meant to guard an ancient prison of forbidden magic, who can seal foes and unleash the magic he guards, Thousand Venoms Mistress, Chosen of Toxins, who is the latest in a line of assassins to bear her Exigence and who can turn her blood into deadly poison, and Willow Specter, Chosen of the Dice, who won her Exigence from the god Plentimon, lord of gamblers, and who now wields luck as a weapon. Future Mors notes that the Exigent book is intended to double as a Charm design guidebook, and will contain three optional varieties of Exalted – the Hearteaters, Dream-Souled and Umbrals, who were hinted at by Morke and Holden as “canon” Exalts but who the new devs have relegated to optional status.

Play one of the Exigents if you want… posted:

  • to be something unique in all the world.
  • to define your own powers and agenda.
  • to do or be something none of the other Exalts offer.

The final part of this section offers “And the tale of the Exalted continues” to hint at Exalt types not yet named. Except…they flat out said what they’d be, and of the three, only one is actually new. Alchemicals, the Chosen of the Primordial Autochthon, and Infernals, corrupted Solar Exaltations in control of the Yozis (the imprisoned but surviving Primordials of the ancient war) were both in past editions, and for some reason just not listed here. The third, new type of Exalt that was not relegated to optional status by the new devs are the Getimians, who are some kind of anti-Sidereal group that work for a renegade Sidereal. It doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. Holden and Morke apparently intended to just keep inventing new types of Exalted to, presumably, keeping making and selling books, but the new devs seem much less interested in doing so. (The Getimians also, explicitly, are led by a Sidereal dude named Rakan Thulio, who turned against Yu-Shan and declared war on causality itself because the dude he was in love with decided to be with someone else. No, really.)

This brings us into the setting chapter. Broadly: Creation is a giant flat plane, with the Pole of Earth at the center, in the middle of the Blessed Isle, seat of the Realm and heart of the Inland Sea. The South is a land of heat, growing into a massive desert as it approaches the Pole of Fire, known for its wealth and its many lost cities. The East is a fertile land of forest and jungle, dominated by the Pole of Wood and home to a confederation of nations that resisted the Realm’s conquest. The cold North is home to the Pole of Air, full of harsh ice, strong people and poor crops. The West is a great ocean dotted with many island nations, thanks to the Pole of Water, and even the Realm has limited influence there, having never truly expanded westward due to the mighty seas.

The world of Exalted is full of spirits of several kinds. Many are gods, spiritual beings meant to oversee the order of reality by guarding and watching over places, things or ideas. They monitor their domains and ensure they continue to exist as they are meant to by the fates decreed in Yu-Shan. Fields, rivers, towns and storms are all overseen by gods, among other things, and the gods out in the world that manage places and things tend to report to the gods of Yu-Shan, who oversee the broader concepts in the Heavenly Bureaucracy. Gods have limited power over their domains, gaining more by the worship of mortals or promotion within the Bureaucracy. Heaven’s laws state that gods must not interfere in the world, which belongs to the Exalted, but in the current age many gods openly defy these rules, threatening or bribing mortals into worship in exchange for boons or favor. They may have children with mortals, the God-Blooded, who wield a tiny fraction of their power – not so much as an Exigent, but more than a normal human. Gods in theory belong to various courts based on their responsibilities, but most such courts no longer exist. Rather, modern spirit courts are less formal affairs in which strong gods dominate their weaker local neighbors, who compete for favor and power. Even the gods of Heaven focus more on expanding their power than doing their jobs, most days, abusing bureaucratic procedures to ignore the problems they are sent reports about.

The greatest gods are the Incarnae, the patrons of the Celestial Exalts. These seven deities were the first to empower mortals as their chosen, and the leaders of the divine rebellion against the Primordials. Now, they rule from the Jade Pleasure Dome in Heaven, rarely speaking to outsiders. The Unconquered Sun is the greatest of them, invincible and mighty but bound to never harm his creators. He was the one who came up with the idea to grant Exaltations. He turned away from the mortal world at some point in the First Age, after some terrible blasphemy of the Exalted angered him. Luna is second, and is the most active of the Incarna. She, he or they – they change faces and genders as easily as the moon changes phases – attends every Lunar Exaltation, and many mortal cults worship them in many aspects. (The core calls Luna ‘her’ but the Lunars book makes it clear that Luna has no constant gender identity whatsoever.) Luna’s greatest love, however, was Gaia, the Emerald Mother, one of two Primordials to side with the divine rebels. The last five Incarnae are the Five Maidens, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. They are the Ladies of Fate, who speak little and in riddles, overseeing the fates of the world. They focus on ensuring that what must happen does, and even the Sidereals don’t really understand them.

Other spirits are elementals, creatures born of one of the five elements. They are ancient beings, older than humanity, who naturally coalesced from the way Creation was made. They are born from the natural energies of the world, and come in amazing variety, from wind bears that herd clouds to fire orbs that travel the desert in packs. They spread their element and birth new members of their kind. They are ageless, but unlike gods they can be slain and will not return to life. As they age, they grow more unique and powerful, eventually transforming into lesser elemental dragons, who oversee the laws of Yu-Shan in the spirit courts. (In theory; in practice, the elemental dragons often grow corrupt and ignore their duties, as the gods do.)

Other spirits are demons, the souls and creations of the Yozis, trapped like their masters in the prison of Malfeas, who is himself the leader of the Yozis but was also turned into their prison-city outside the world. Not all demons are malevolent beings, but they tend not to care about humanity in any real way. They seek worship in order to gain power, and they seek to escape from Malfeas, as the Yozis do, because Malfeas is an awful place. Demons of the First Circle are those made to serve, and are not souls of anyone but themselves. Demons of the Second Circle are the souls of the Demons of the Third Circle, who are the souls of the Yozis. They are alien beings, all, with urges that humans can rarely understand, and so are always dangerous to deal with. They most often enter Creation due to being called by sorcerers, as the surrender oaths of the Yozis bind the demons to serve when so called. Many tales exist of demons tricking and overcoming their summoners, allowing them to escape into Creation, but the Exalted have long had measures to ensure that summoning is a safe and useful tool, and these events rarely actually happen in reality.

Beyond these categories are the Five Elemental Dragons, children of Gaia, who created the Dragon-Blooded. They are no mere elementals, but transcendent beings, though they rarely interact with the world. Gaia herself was a Primordial that sided with the gods, out of love for Luna, and she negotiated the surrender of the Yozis, her family – and they will never forgive her for it. She is described as a majestic woman in green, but she has not been seen since the early First Age. She has few cults, and the gods will not speak of where she has gone.

The Realm is the greatest nation in Creation, its sole superpower, and all of Creation is shaped by its presence. Under the Scarlet Empress, it enforced its will on the other nations of the world, smashing opposition with its mighty legions of mortal soldiers led by Dragon-Blooded officers. In economic might, it is rivaled only by the Guild, and its state religion, the Immaculate Order, is the largest in Creation. They preach a hierarchy in which Dragon-Blooded are at the top, living saints, and Solars and Lunars are Anathema, monstrous beings that must be slain for the good of the world. The Realm has been ruthless in its expansion and conquest, ready to crush any resistance to the Empress’ will, and while its lands are too vast for absolute control, she was immensely good at spotting and crushing rebels. Since her disappearance, the Realm has been ruled officially by the Regent, Tepet Fokuf, who is basically just a puppet for the Deliberative, the governing body of elder Dragon-Bloods that served to advise the Empress.

I hate this fucking book posted:

For now, Fokuf acts as a rubber-stamp for the senators of the Deliberative when not pleasuring himself in his bedchambers to the more erotic passages in the Immaculate Texts.

That line is not, technically, new to 3rd edition – it was an offhand mention in earlier editions that Holden and Morke often cited as one of their favorite characterizations of Fokuf, so they deliberately kept it in. Why would anyone need or want this?

Next time: More setting material.

The Realm

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

I would like to note: I quite like the Exalted 3e that has developed after Morke and Holden left. It's mostly the core book that I hate, and honestly not on most of its setting material. (Some of that material should absolutely have been excised, though, like Fokuf's hobbies.)

Exalted 3rd Edition: The Realm

The social system of the Realm is the Perfected Hierarchy, enforced by Immaculate doctrine. At the top are the Dragon-Blooded, of course, and especially the Great Houses that descend from the Empress. Beneath them are the patricians, houses of largely mortal nobility with fewer Dragon-Blooded members, who mostly descend from military heroes of the Realm’s history, members of the Lesser Chamber of the Deliberative and wealthy merchants. They are the height of mortal society, rich and powerful, but cannot equal the Dragon-Bloods directly. Under them are the peasants, who work the land and serve the nobility. They are forbidden weapons and must have documentation to travel outside their home province. Under them are slaves, typically imported as tribute from the Realm’s satrapries and distributed by House Cynis, one of the Ten (formerly Eleven) Great Houses. The actual Great House identities are largely not super important to understand for the core, since Solars will rarely need to care much about them directly. Slaves are not the bottom rung – that’d be outlaws, who have no legal rights whatsoever. There are not many of them, but entire peasant communities may be outlawed if they can’t keep their criminals or dissidents under control, and some Great Houses are now using the threat of dispossession to seize land now that the Empress isn’t there to stop them. This is not making the peasants happy. The Threshold’s primary interactions with the Realm are the satrapies and Legions. The satrapies are the tributary states of the Realm, who rule over their nations in exchange for paying a regular and quite high tax to the Realm proper. Satraps are often quite disliked by their subjects, because they usually make up the tax by enslaving or taxing their own citizens. The Legions, of course, were the Realm’s fist, serving as satrapial military advisors or an army of conquest to take over new lands. There used to be 40, with at least 36 in fighting shape at any one time, but the Legions have since been recalled to the Blessed Isle and placed under control of the Great Houses, who are preparing for what seems to be an inevitable civil war.

The largest religion in Creation is the Immaculate Philosophy, overseen by the Immaculate Order of monks. They teach that a soul is enlightened over the course of multiple incarnations, with rebirth as a Dragon-Blood being the peak of human existence. Once a Dragon-Blood dies, they teach, they achieve unity with the Five Elemental Dragons, who created the world and are masters of all elemental Essence. The unity of souls with them strengthens Creation and creates new souls. Every individual must pursue spiritual advancement by developing strong, orderly communities in which people can prosper. Dragon-Bloods are held as superior to mortals. Schismatic beliefs within the Order are acceptable, as long as they accept this Dragon-Blooded primacy. Besides justifying the Realm’s political setup, the Immaculates also work to restrain selfish and wicked gods. Left on their own, many gods would demand terrible tributes from mortals, and some gods even enjoy consuming human sacrifices or forcing people to pray unto starvation and death. The Immaculate Philosophy dictates that all gods must receive their fair, ordered share of human worship by a strict procession of holidays and worship periods, and anything outside of this must be restrained by the Dragon-Blooded among Immaculate monks, who go out and hunt down gods that break the rules and beat them into submission.

Per Immaculate dogma, the Five Elemental Dragons once incarnated as five individual Dragon-Bloods, the Immaculate Dragons, during the early destruction of the Anathema, as they call the Usurpation; these beings are fictional, but their heroic stories draw on many actual historic events in which heroic Dragon-Bloods fought against the Solar and Lunar rulers. They are also held up as ideals of faith which all people should strive to be like, and veneration of the Immaculate Dragons is vital, with later philosophers also coming up with the idea of anti-Immaculates, abstract figures that represent everything you shouldn’t be. Danaa’d, Arbiter of the Immaculate Complaint, was a Water Aspect whose determination led her to dive into the bottom of the sea and lock the Anathema away in the Underworld forever, and her devotees expose themselves to danger and hardship to cultivate themselves. Her antithesis is the Unmanly Babbler, who demands others fix all their problems without working to better themselves. Future Mors notes that Danaa’d will be declared to have been a trans woman in the DBs text. (She’s still fictional, but this forms a religious basis for trans acceptance in Dragon-Blooded societies.) Hesiesh, Reciter of Loud Prayers and Efficacious Hymns, was a Fire Aspect who only ever used his Essence once, burning away all the corpses left by the war with the Anathema so that the billions of dead would not rise as hungry ghosts. His careful management of his Essence is his core lesson, teaching restraint and care rather than wild abandon. His antithesis, the Illiberal Churl, hoards treasure without reason and follows traditions blindly without understanding why. Mela, Petitioner of Clouds Accordant to the Call of Battle, was the first and eldest, an Air Aspect who introduced the training that builds the Immaculate Martial Arts, and whose winds defended the Dragon-Blooded host against the powers of the Anathema. Her antithesis, the Sickly Whore, squanders natural gifts in hedonism and selfishness rather than sharing them with the community. Sextes Jylis, He Who Hath Strewn Much Grass, was a Wood Aspect who is said to have wandered Creation planting forests and meadows to rebuild after the devastation of the Anathema war, and is the example of proper stewardship by the Exalted, laboring without end or failure to care for the world. His antithesis is the Inconsiderate Horseman, who makes his own life easier by making the world worse for everyone else. Pasiap, He Who Illuminates Both Worlds with Majesty and Power, was the last to emerge, an Earth Aspect who taught the secrets of geomancy and engineering, leading the Dragon-Blooded to rebuild the world and perfect themselves in arts and labor, to ensure that there would always be a world for new heroes. His antithesis is the Ostentatious Peasant, who hoards treasures and knowledge in order to gain wealth without ever repaying society by passing it on to others.

Most people in the Realm, including the Dragon-Bloods, are genuine believers in the Immaculate Philosophy. The doctrine of spiritual elevation by service, humility and good behavior keeps people obedient, but also stresses the responsibilities of the Exalted in caring for their lesser. It gives them political legitimacy, but also limits their behaviors, and monks are not afraid to criticize Dragon-Blooded who abuse those below them. It has proven a pretty effective religion in terms of keeping the Dragon-Blooded focused on the task of bringing order to the world and defending it against outside threats by defeating the Anathema, Fair Folk and other dangers. This is not comforting, however, to most people victimized by a “regrettable but understandable” moral failing of a Dragon-Blooded. The Immaculates also run the Wyld Hunt, the ad hoc military groups that form to take out Anathema. Formally, Anathema are any beings the Order finds to be a continued danger to order and prosperity, but automatically includes all Solars and Lunars; it can just also potentially mean Fair Folk, beastmen, elementals, gods or demons if they threaten people enough. That said, most lay people just assume it covers Lunars and Solars.

The next most common “religion” is the Hundred Gods Heresy, a blanket Immaculate term for the worship of gods outside of proper Immaculate doctrine. It is largely unknown on the Blessed Isle, but extremely common outside the Realm, though in various satrapies there is usually some lip service given to the Immaculates to keep everyone happy-ish. The gods in those areas avoid major misbehavior in order to maintain this balance, because if they get greedy, the Immaculates will come beat the shit out of them.

The other important world organization to remember is The Guild, a mortal-run trade association that crosses all of Creation. It is easily the largest and most powerful mortal organization in the world, spanning the entire Threshold. Its trade fleets and caravans are what keep Creation in communication, connected by money and goods. Its efforts may bring good things to a lot of people, but it is ultimately an engine purely for profit, and it has no morals. Drugs and slaves are some of its most common commodities, and the most daring Guild slavebrokers even deal with the Fair Folk, buying up the hollowed out husks that remain after they eat their victims’ souls. The Guild is not afraid to wield its economic might against anyone that dares to try and stop its growth and power, either. I could go into detail about how money works, with the silver and jade standards and exchange rates, because they sure as hell spend three pages on that, but I’m not going to because Exalted doesn’t actually care. Wealth is abstracted out to the Resources background and no one ever has to care about how many obols or jade talents or whatever you have on hand.

The Threshold refers to everything between the Inland Sea and the edges of the world. We get an overview of locations, which I’m going to truncate. Most are interesting but lacking in direct hooks because these are just a mountain of tiny writeups. They’re probably one of the better parts of the book, honestly, it’s just there’s a ton of them and individually none are really worth covering in depth, especially since the writeups go all the way around the Directions just constantly dropping city and tribe names and brief descriptions of them. We get a sidebar on “ethnotypes by region” which I feel is kind of odd. The North is full of pale people with pale hair, the Scavenger Lands are home to everyone that the random slider of any Elder Scrolls game could imagine, the East is usually tall people with bark-colored skin and green or brown eyes, the South is darker skintones, ranging from olive to black, with curly, wavy or kinky hair, and the West is “bronze or golden” skin with hair the colors of the sunset. The Blessed Isle is home to light skin, dark hair and dark eyes, and…”epicanthic folds are common enough in many prefectures to be considered unremarkable.”

The Threshold has many Lunar dominions, in which the Realm has no sway. They are united in the Silver Pact, aiding each other in defense and working against the Realm and the Sidereals of Yu-Shan, as well as working to try and rescue as many young Lunars as possible from the Wyld Hunt. They also use magic tattoos to set the castes of these young Lunars, if allowed; without these, a Lunar has no Caste. Future Mors notes that while the game says these dominions are largely set up as weapons of war against the Realm, the Lunars book will do a better job of explaining both what that means and how the Pact is actually not super united in either tactics or specific goals, so the dominions often vary massively. It will also recharacterize a lot of the Lunar elders mentioned in this section, such as Ma-Ha-Suchi and Sha’a Oka. There’s a discussion of conflict between Lunars and Dragon-Blooded over control of the mystic island called the Caul, a sacred island to both groups, but Future Mors notes this will be detailed much better and more interestingly in both the DBs and Lunars books.

The Wyld is the Chaos beneath and outside Creation, and it has bubbling presence within the world as well, wherever the Fair Folk have established enough presence to damage reality by their process of stripping away and devouring the dreams and souls of mortals or various other methods. Much of Creation has fallen to the Wyld since the First Age, lost forever in the roiling chaos. The Wyld is a place of impossibilities and fantasy, wearing away at mortal sense of self and tainting and mutating people with its touch. The Fair Folk are its natives, immortal monsters also called the Raksha, who wield impossibility and dream and who hate Creation instinctively for shattering the purity of chaos and creating something that could not be changed, fixing in place the flow of time and forcing shape upon them. They also love it for its beauty, its presence, which fulfills the gnawing hunger in them to truly exist, for the Raksha are not real the way normal people are, having to constantly reinvent and explain their own existence to the world.

The Underworld is the land of the restless dead, left behind by imperfections in the cycle of reincarnation. Some linger due to unresolved passions, others due to dark magic or simple errors of the world. Some ghosts are people, with minds, while others are essentially ravening beasts, hungering for life. These are usually formed by improper burials or failure to fully follow local funerary customs. Most ghosts yearn for the feeling of living, sustained by the passions they felt in life. The Underworld is their ‘native’ land, a darkness that should never have existed. The Immaculates forbid contact with or worship of ancestral ghosts, for fear of spiritual pollution, but ancestor worship is common outside their controlled areas. Veneration of the dead can empower them and grant them the sensations of life they so crave. The areas where the Underworld and normal Creation overlap are called Shadowlands, places tainted by great death, and animals often avoid such places, save for spiders, rats and corvids. Colors leech from the land, and food there often tastes bitter and wrong. The Underworld is largely ruled over by the Deathlords, ancient ghosts of sorcerer-kings, though other, lesser ghosts of power hold sway over some regions. The Deathlords are rarely spoken of openly, for fear of attracting their attention, and they constantly fight amongst themselves for power. Until recently, they ignored the living world, but the birth of the Abyssals has driven them to begin looking to Creation in pursuit of conquest and service to Oblivion.

And then, if you need any weird shit that doesn’t cover? You can just say it’s a behemoth. Behemoths are just giant monsters of any kind that don’t make sense as a thing that exists as a species. They’re giant one-off monsters made by ancient Primordials or First Age Exalts, titans from a lost era, ancient machines of mystic power…whatever the GM needs them to be. They’re your catchall for shit that doesn’t make sense as anything else.

Next time: Chargen

Making A Character – Wait, What Rules

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Making A Character – Wait, What Rules

In the high tradition of White Wolf Organization, chargen happens before any rules discussion whatsoever. But, well, it’s still Storyteller, so we at least know that it’s 1-5 dots, 2 dots average on attributes, etc. This is Exalted, so we kept Appearance as a stat long after other games have ditched it. It’s a shit stat. Yes, Lunars 3e will do decent enough stuff with it but it’s still a bad stat. Anyway. Step 1: talk to the other players and figure out your concepts and what caste they belong to. Note down the caste anima effects, which are not in this chapter. You start at 1 dot in each attribute, picking a primary, secondary and tertiary category from Physical, Mental and Social. Still in the realm of normal. You get 8 dots to spend on primary, 6 on secondary and 4 on tertiary. And I am going to flat out tell you right now: because BP is more efficient than XP, it is your best idea mechanically to put whatever you want up to 5 and leave the others at 1, because it is much cheaper to get a 5 this way than to buy it with XP. Because no bad rules even if you want them, I guess. A primary or secondary attribute will cost 4 BP per dot to raise, and a tertiary will cost 3 BP per dot. XP costs, on the other hand, will rise with each dot, so dot 5 is significantly more expensive than dot 2 or 3.

From here, we look at Caste Abilities. Each Solar Caste, in past editions, had five Caste Abilities. In 3e, they have eight, and you pick which five your Solar has from their caste. Dawns get Archery, Awareness, Brawl/Martial Arts, Dodge, Melee, Resistance, Thrown and War, for example. (Martial Arts is an ability you can only get if you have the Martial Artist merit, but if you have Brawl as caste or favored, you automatically get Martial Arts the same if you have access to it. Martial Arts are a good investment if you go whole hog on it…but most Solars won’t, because Brawl is mechanically better, as it was Morke’s favorite ability. It’s also just awful to read.) Zeniths get Athletics, Integrity, Performance, Lore, Presence, Resistance, Survival and War. Twilights get Bureaucracy, Craft, Integrity, Investigation, Linguistics, Lore, Medicine and Occult. Nights get Athletics, Awareness, Dodge, Investigation, Larceny, Ride, Stealth and Socailize. Eclipses get Bureaucracy, Larceny, Linguistics, Occult, Presence, Ride, Sail and Socialize. The 8-abilities-pick-5 was meant, in theory, to combat the fact that Caste abilities had a lot of overlap in past editions. The trick is that there’s still a lot of overlap, especially for Dawns, who suffered most from it in the first place. Still, not the worst idea. You then pick 5 Favored Abilities, which can’t be the same as any of the Caste Abilities you picked. The game does suggest you pick at least one combat ability as Caste or Favored for survival reasons, and probably should’ve given them as Caste access to more than one caste.

At this point, you pick one of your five chosen Caste Abilities. This is your Supernal Ability. For this one ability, you ignore Essence prerequisites for Charm purchases. So you can buy Essence 5 Charms at chargen in that one Ability. This is an awful, awful idea. Fortunately, only Solars get one so far. Unfortunately, it is still an incredibly bad idea because…well, Solars start at Essence 1 now, and the idea was Essence 1 Charms should still be cool and good. Except having your Supernal meant the devs could feel free to ignore that, because now you can just buy up to whatever in your Supernal Ability! And then anyone who isn’t Supernal in that ability is just…kind of fucked. This is especially true of combat abilities, and note again, only a Dawn can have an attack ability as Supernal. Also you can pick Martial Arts as your Supernal if you’re a Dawn, but…you won’t.

From here, you get a bunch of points to spend on abilities, but can’t raise any over 3 without spending Bonus Points. All Favored Abilities must have at least one dot. You also get 4 Specialties. A Specialty gives you +1 dice to the rolls where it applies, and can only be taken for Abilities you have dots in. You can never apply more than one Specialty to a roll. That’s fine. You then get 10 points on Merits and…we’ll get into that. Suffice to say that there’s a lot of Merits and weighing which ones are worth your time isn’t going to be easy.

After this, you get 15 Charms. You then select your Intimacies. These are the things your character cares about. They are Ties (people, places or things you care about) or Principles (ideals you hold). You must have at least four. At least one must be Defining, at least one must be Major, at least one must have a positive context and at least one must have a negative context. We’ll explain what that actually means later, because the game won’t do it until we hit the social rules. You also select your Limit Trigger, which is what will cause you to gain Limit. Again, this will not be explained until next chapter.

Finally, we spend BP. I will note, the game does at least tell you that your most efficient use of BP is going to be buying up Favored or Caste abilities or Merits, and that Charms and spells will be least efficient, because buying those with XP is flat cost. You will probably also spend some buying up your Willpower, because otherwise you only have the default of 5 and Willpower is a very important thing to have in any Storyteller game because it’s the points you spend to resist stuff or boost stuff. The game suggests having at least 2-5 combat charms, and probably a purchase of Ox-Body Technique to give you a longer HP bar.

I would be fine with the BP advice if, again, it weren’t for the monumentally stupid decision to make BP and XP work extremely differently, with completely different efficiency. I still have no idea why this became an Exalted sacred cow. I’m not sure anyone does.

Next time: You know what’s a good time to start defining terms? A chapter after you use them a lot.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Stats

I’m skipping the two-page caste spreads because we’ve been over basically everything relevant and the actual anima mechanics are some 30 pages away. So, attributes. Our spread is the same Exalted has ever had. Strength, for raw physical power and muscle, which is used in combat to determine the damage of Withering Attacks (but not Decisive Attacks; both will be defined later in the combat section). Dexterity is grace and agility, and is used to determine both attack accuracy and defenses (against both kinds of attacks), so…yeah, you still want a ton of it. Of course you do. Stamina is vitality and toughness, and Is used in combat to reduce Withering Attack damage (but not Decisive Attack damage), and also resists poison, disease and deprivation.

Charisma is your ability to express your beliefs and orders and to convince others to obey or to think the same way you do. It is used for social influence when you are making arguments you genuinely believe in, or used in combat to lead armies with speechifying. Manipulation is your ability to lie, deceive and tell people what they want to hear. It is used for social influence when you’re making false arguments via lies or verbal misdirection, or any argument that is more about getting a desired response than what you actually believe, and it contributes to your Guile, the rating that determines how hard it is to read you. Appearance is your prettiness and ability to use it, or your ugliness and ability to use it if you take the Hideous merit. It is used when you want to use your looks to influence people or rely on first impressions over reasoned words or manipulations.

Perception is your sensory ability and skill at understanding what you notice. It is used to detect details, investigate stuff and avoid ambushes. Intelligence is your ability to be logical and think rationally. It is used for making connections, analytical thinking and remembering stuff, and is mostly useful for strategizing, sorcery and nerd work. Wits is your intuition and common sense, plus ability to react quickly. It is used for Join Battle rolls to determine starting initiative and helps determine your Resolve, which is used to resist social influence.

We then get a broad list of abilities but frankly they all got listed during chargen when I talked about Caste Abilities so we’ll skip over that. The ones important in combat, crafting or social influence are called out helpfully, which is nice. Also, if you don’t have any dots in Linguistics, you are illiterate. Also, Craft, as always, is cut into different spheres, so you can have multiple Craft scores for different focuses – armormaking, geomancy, artifact-making (which is separate from making mundane weapons or armor, for some reason). Martial Arts is also split this way – each style will have a different Martial Arts rating to buy up separately.

That brings us to Merits. Merits are…basically, everything that isn’t Abilities or Attributes. And yes, they absolutely cost more to buy with XP than with BP, because they have ratings. Of course they do. Innate merits must be taken during chargen or gained via some form of magic. Purchased merits can be bought with XP. Story merits can only be gained after chargen via story events, but cost no XP when gained this way.

Merits are worth looking at because some of them are absolutely absurd. For a lot, you can buy the merits multiple times to represent, like, multiple allies, more treasures or whatever.
Allies (1, 3 or 5, Story) – You have an NPC ally, with 1 dot meaning mortal or minor powers but useful resources, 3 being a supernatural ally about on par with a young Terrestrial Exalt and 5 being one on par with a Celestial Exalt.
Ambidextrous (1 or 2, Innate) – For 1 dot, you don’t suffer a -1 penalty when using your off-hand. Why does this penalty even exist? For two dots, you also have prehensile feet.
Artifact (2-5, Story) – You have an artifact. Two dots is something minor but magical, 3 is your normal-scale magic sword or armor, 4 is a famous and legendary magic item, 5 is a treasure of immense power and require ST approval. There is also Artifact N/A, which is ‘too powerful to be able to be purchased, handed out at ST discretion during the game.’
Backing (2-4, Story) – You belong to an organization. 2 dots means low rank in a massive group like the Guild or solid rank in a less powerful group. 3 is middling rank in a massive group or elite rank in a smaller one. 4 is elite rank in a massive group.
Boundless Endurance (2, Purchased) – You must have Stamina or Resistance 3+, and you get -2 difficulty to any rolls to resist fatigue or stay awake. Which is totally on par with a minor magic item, I’m sure.
Command (2-5, Story) – You lead a military force. It gets better with more dots, having better mass combat stats. Interestingly, Solars can’t begin play with magically augmented soldiers; Future Mors notes that Lunars can, because they often have beastman forces.
Contacts (1, 3 or 5, Story) – Each purchase is a network of contacts of a specific sort. 1 dot means they’re confined to a single city-state or region, 3 dots can span a large area or have wider reach but only within a specific area of influence, and 5 dots means they’re pretty much across an entire Direction.
Cult (1-5, Story) – You’re worshipped. The more dots, the more priests and worshippers you have, with 4 dots being an entire nation and 5 being widespread across an entire Direction. You basically get free Willpower points equal to your cult rating each arc.
Danger Sense (3, Innate) – You must have Perception or Awareness 3+, and get +1 to all rolls to detect danger. Which is totally worth the same as owning a magic sword that can teach you special Charms or getting 3 free Willpower per story arc and the worship of an entire city-state and not at all better done as an Awareness specialty in detecting traps or ambushes or whatever you’re afraid of.
Demesne (2 or 4, Story) – You own a magical place of power, usually aligned to one of the elements but possibly to something else, like death or the sun. Outside combat, it causes you to regenerate Essence faster and you can sense use of Essence within its bounds. It is also a boost to doing Sorcerous Workings that resonate with its nature. For four dots, it is exceptionally powerful, making it better at all those things. You’re gonna have to go visit it every so often to maintain your ties to it, and other people can attune to it while you aren’t present to gain its benefits as well. (You can share attunement with friends, also, and choose not to block them even if you are present.)
Direction Sense (1, Innate) – You can always determine the compass directions relative to the five Poles, and get -2 to difficulties to navigate to fixed, known locations or retrace your steps. Totally worth it.
Eidetic Memory (2, Innate) – You get one automatic success on any roll to remember details from past scenes and events. Again, totally worth it, I’m sure.
Familiar (1-3, Story) – You have a pet animal which serves you and can share its senses with you. For 1 dot it’s small and weak, like a dog or owl. For 2, it’s formidable or useful – a simhata, warhorse or tiger. For 3, it’s overtly exceptional or magical, such as a Haltan talking monkey, a mutated fire-breathing ox, a god-blooded stallion or a superpredator such as a tyrant lizard.
Fast Reflexes (3, Purchased) – You must have Wits 3+. You get +1 to Join Battle rolls. I feel like it’s probably cheaper to just have more Wits or a Charm that helps?
Followers (1-3, Story) – You have a bunch of mortal followers of a specific type of person, like blacksmiths. They are above average in skill at their job and are loyal to you personally. More dots, more followers.
Giant (4, Innate) – You must have Stamina 3+. You are between 7.5 and 10 feet tall and get an extra -0 space on your healthbar, but are very memorable and hard to disguise as anyone smaller than you. This might actually be worth it.
Hearthstone (2 or 4, Story) – You have ownership of a magical rock formed from the geomantic flow of a Demesne or Manse. If you also control the Manse and put the hearthstone into an artifact you own, you benefit from the effects of being in the Manse no matter where you are, and the rock also has its own powers, with more dots being better rocks.
Hideous (0, Innate) – Your Appearance rating is about being scary and ugly. It boosts intimidating and threats rather than persuasion, and is a penalty to seduction.
Influence (1-5, Story) – You have standing and pull in a society. More dots, influence over a wider region.
Iron Stomach (1, Purchased) – You must have Stamina or Resistance 3+. You can digest anything edible, and get -2 difficulty on Survival rolls to forge for yourself exclusively or rolls to recover from food poisoning. Totally gonna come up ever.
Language (1, Purchased) – You speak one additional major language past your native tongue each time you purchase this. If you have any Linguistics dots, you can also read and write it. Alternatively, one purchase gives four highly specific local languages, spoken by a single tribe or group.
Manse (3 or 5, Story) – For 3 dots, you get the effects of Demesne 2 and Hearthstone 2. For 5, you get them at 4. Also, your Demesne has a cool magic house built on it to channel its power.
Mentor (1-3, Story) – You have a teacher and advisor of greater experience. More dots means they have wider field of expertise, greater power and influence, or both.
Martial Artist (4, Purchased) – You must have Brawl 1+. You can buy the Martial Arts Ability and learn Martial Arts Charms.
Mighty Thew (1-3, Purchased) – You must have Strength 3+. You get bonus dice to Feats of Strength.
Natural Immunity (2, Innate) – You get -2 Difficulty to rolls to resist infection, sickness and disease. Most of which don’t work on Exalts to begin with.
Pain Tolerance (4, Purchased) – Your wound penalties are reduced in severity. It’s…not really worth 4 dots, though it’s not terrible.
Quick Draw (1 or 4, Purchased) – You must have an attack-usable Ability at 3+. For 1 dot, you get no Defense penalty for a draw/ready action. For 4, you get a reduced penalty to flurry a draw/ready action and an attack action. You have to buy this separately per attack-usable Ability. Totally worth doing, huh?
Retainers (2 or 5, Story) – Each purchase is a loyal NPC servant expert in a specific field. 2 dots means they’re mortal or have at most minor powers. 4 dots is someone on par with a young Terrestrail Exalt.
Resources (1-5, Story) – I usually hate Resources because having none means being dirt poor so everyone has to take it. This is, shockingly, not the case here – 1 dot represents income on par with a successful small businessman or mid-ranking criminal, with 0 being ‘normal person.’ More dots, more money. So…I’m shockingly okay with this, despite usually hating Resources merit stuff.
Selective Conception (1, Innate) – You have complete conscious control over your own fertility. You may choose, male or female, to just not cause conception when you have sex. If female, you may spend 1 WP to ensure conception, and automatically know when you are pregnant. Why does this exist?
Strong Lungs (1, Purchased) – You must have Athletics 3+. You can hold your breath for several minutes normally, or under duress for about twice as many rounds as a normal person.
Tempered by the Elements (2, Purchased) – Pick an environment. You can move through difficult terrain in that environment at normal speed.
Toxin Resistance (3, Purchased) – You must have Stamina or Resistance 3+. You get +2 to rolls to resist poisons, but you can’t easily get drunk or high.

Those are all “natural” – they don’t represent magic powers of any kind. Even Selective Conception. Which…why does that exist, why is that – ugh. Anyway, there are also Supernatural Merits that can generally only be obtained by magical means, such as Wyld mutation or being beastmen. The book notes that Wyld mutants and beastmen are very rarely chosen to become Solars, though it is still possible. I guess the Unconquered Sun is racist against furries.
Chameleon (3, Innate) – You can change color to match your surroundings. You get +1 to Stealth rolls and to Survival rolls for hunting. If you are naked, it’s +2 instead. You must make a Willpower roll when stressed to avoid reflexively shifting colors slightly.
Claws/Fangs/Hooves/Horns (1 or 4, Innate) – You have natural weapons. Your unarmed Decisive Attacks (for claws, horns or hooves) or Decisive Savaging Attacks in grapples (for fangs) can deal Lethal instead of Bashing damage. For 4, your natural weapons are bigger and meaner, getting both of the prior abilities and also count as a Medium Weapon for Withering Attacks. However, they also give a penalty to disguises if that large.
Enhanced Sense (3, Innate) – You get +2 to all Perception rolls covering one specific sense. However, you have a physically obvious mutation representing this, such as unusual eye shape or color, or giant ears or a giant nose.
Exalted Healing (5, Innate) – All Exalts, spirits and Fair Folk have this for free. You can heal from any injury, with only the worst even leaving scars, and will perfectly mend no matter the damage for anything short of a completely severed or destroyed limb. Your wounds also never become infected, ever.
Extra Limbs (3, Innate) – You have extra limbs of some kind, causing your flurries to have a lesser penalty on your choice of one of the actions.
Gills (0 or 3, Innate) – The free version means you only have gills, not lungs, and will suffocate after several minutes out of water. For 3, you can breathe both air and water.
Poisoned Body (1, 2 or 5, Innate) – Your body is toxic somehow, equivalent to snake venom. For 1, your blood is ingested poison. For 2, all of your body fluids are ingested poison and also work via “intimate contact.” For 5, your blood is contact poison that strikes anyone who does 2+ Lethal damage to you in one attack or grapples you after you’ve taken any Lethal damage in a scene and fails a Dodge roll. You cannot turn this merit off, ever.
Quills (5, Innate) – You have sharp quills. Your unarmed Decisive Attacks deal Lethal damage, and your Withering Savage in a grapple is a Medium Weapon which deals Lethal damage if used Decisively. Anyone trying to clinch you automatically loses 1 Initiative per round while grappling. However, you get a huge disguise penalty and probably can’t touch people much.
Subtlety (2, Innate) – You purchase this attached to another Supernatural Merit. That merit becomes non-obvious when not in active use.
Tail (1-2, Innate) – You have a tail. For 1, it gives a +2 bonus to attempts to keep your balance. For 2, it is prehensile (but suffers the off-hand penalty). If hidden under clothes, your tail loses all benefits until revealed.
Thaumaturgist (4, Innate) – You can perform thaumaturgy. Any Exalt that can do Terrestrial Circle Sorcery gets this for free.
Unusual Hide (1-5, Innate) – Your skin is unnatural in some way, providing natural soak equal to the merit’s value and an equivalent disguise penalty.
Venomous (3 or 4, Innate) – You have venom (equivalent to snake venom) that can be applied by your natural attacks. For 3, you either must have a natural weapon that can deal Lethal damage as well, and can use it to poison people a few times a day on a Decisive Attack, with uses based on your Stamina, or you spit poison as a Gambit, aimed per a Thrown weapon, with similar Stamina-based use restriction. For 4 dots, you get both, but they draw off the same Stamina-based supply.
Wall Walking (4, Innate) – You can cling to and walk or crawl across walls and ceilings, though ceilings and slick surfaces are difficult terrain. However, your hands and feet are visibly inhuman.
Wings (3 or 5, Innate) – For 3, you have wings that allow you to glide, increasing your leap distance and allowing you to ignore falling damage as long as you have room to glide. For 5, you can fly at the same speed you can walk. However, you always have a large disguise penalty either way, and actions requiring finesse or precision (such as attacking) get a penalty while airborne.

Next time: Flaws, Willpower, Intimacies…

In Which Mors Gets Very Angry At The Word Derangements

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: In Which Mors Gets Very Angry At The Word Derangements

Flaws are what we might generously call a misguided idea. They cost nothing, you can take them if you want to or you can not. Whenever a Flaw comes up in play and either harms or significantly inconveniences the character that has it, they have a chance to gain Solar XP, which will be explained ten pages from now. If it's just mildly annoying or if you can easily compensate for it and aren't really inconvenienced, no benefit. Sure, fine. But what are the example Flaws? Are they just fluff descriptions and you trust your GM to work with you to make them come up? Why, no! They all also have mechanical components.

Addiction: You are addicted to a thing, such as a drug or the Wyld. While in withdrawal, you get -1 to all actions until you get your fix.
Amputee: You are missing a limb. If an arm, you get -3 to any action that needs two hands to do right. If missing a leg, all terrain is difficult terrain for you.
Blind: You can't see. You get -3 to all actions primarily dependent on sight.
Deaf You can't hear. You get -3 to all Awareness checks at least partially dependent on hearing, and will have trouble communicating when you don't have time to read lips, like in combat.
Derangements: oh wait what is this here list time for me to break out of it and start hollering

Derangement is the term Exalted is using for "some malady of the mind." Any mental illness or issue. And it's an inherited term, dating back to the early days of White Wolf. And it is an evil term. It treats mental illness as a failing, usually a moral one, and a "flaw" that can be fixed. As a person on the Autism spectrum, I find this extremely offensive. And, indeed, so should everyone. It is an outdated, actively harmful treatment of mental illness made much worse by the mechanics of it. What is that mechanic? Well, your Derangement is either Minor, Major or Defining. Anyone can use it for social influence as though it were one of your Intimacies. You must spend 1 Willpower per session or day, whichever is longer, to resist a Minor Derangement, whichever is shorter for a Major, or per scene for Defining. And then we get the examples.
Hysteria: Hysteria is a historical diagnosis used to belittle and medicalize women not doing what men wanted. But in Exalted, it's having emotions that "swing out of control" when you botch a roll or suffer extreme stress or anxity, causing you to lash out at others or try to flee into isolation if you fail a Willpower roll, harder the more intense your... Derangement is.
Madness: You have withdrawn from reality, hallucinating and suffering violent mood swings whenever you botch a roll, experience intense anxiety or run out of temporary Willpower, unless you make a Willpower like with Hysteria.
Megrims: This is depression. Whenever you botch a roll or hit 0 temporary Willpower, you must make the Willpower roll as above. If you fail, you can't spend Willpower for "the next several days" except to temporarily suppress this.
Obsession: You are fixated on a thing, idea, person or action. Whenever you encounter the focus of your obsession, you will focus on it to the exclusion of all else. When you run out of Willpower, you must make a Willpower roll as above or else you will drop everything to go find or indulge in your obsession. Have you noticed that all of these are pretty terribly implemented yet?
Paranoia: You have delusions of persecution and mistrust everyone. Whenever you suffer intense stress, you distrust all strangers and lose the benefits of all positive Ties unless you succeed on the Willpower roll as above. I hate derangements. So much.

anyway, back to the list.
Mute: You can't talk.
Sterile: You can't have kids. Whether you can fuck is up to you. Why is this a Flaw on the same level as the others? Fuck you, that's why.
Wyld Mutant: You are clearly inhuman or mutated. You get -3 to all social interactions with strangers or outsiders not used to Wyld mutants.

Anyway. Willpower. You have a rating of Willpower between 1 and 10. Well, between 5 and 10, because you start at 5 as an Exalt. That is your permanent rating. You also have a pool of Willpower points. (NPCs usually have ratings of 2-3, with 1 and 4-6 beinguncommong, 7-8 being rare and 9-10 being less than 1%.) You start play with points equal to your rating, but you can have more or less than that, as Willpower points gained in some ways can cause your pool to go over your rating, to a max of 10. When you make Willpower rolls, unless otherwise specified, you're rolling your rating, not your pool of points. You can spend Willpower to:
1. Get an automatic success on a single roll. You can only spend 1 Willpower per roll this way and must do so before rolling.
2. Increase a static value such as Defense or Resolve by 1 for a single roll. You can only spend 1 Willpower per roll this way andm ust do so before the opponent rolls.
3. Spend to reject certain social influence.
4. Fuel charms that cost Willpower.

You gain Willpower by:
1. Having a full night's rest. However, the Willpower gained this way cannot bring your pool over your permanent rating. If you don't have to sleep, you can still regain Willpower by spending 6-8 hours resting or meditating whil awake, but can still only get this bonus once a day.
2. When you under go significant hardship or sacrifice in support of a Major or Defining Intimacy. You can only gain 1 Willpower per scene this way, but it can go over your permanent rating.
3. When you achieve a major character or story goal, the ST may award you 1-3 Willpower, depending on the scale and significance of the achievement, and it can bring you over your permanent rating.
4. When you perform a two-point stunt, you gain 1 Willpower, but it can't go over your permanent rating. When you perform a three-point stunt, you regain 2 Willpower and it can go over your permanent rating.
5. At the start of each story, your Willpower resets to its permanent rating if it was lower.
6. At the end of Limit Break, your Willpower resets to its permanent rating, regardless of what your pool was at before that.

Intimacies are the core of the social influence system, as they help determine what social influence will or won't work on you. We've talked about Ties and Principles already. Again, they can be Minor, Majopr or Defining. Minor intimacies are notable but only really matter when their subject is directly relevant to what's going on. Major Intimacies are more important, and can come into play even when only indirectly or tangentially related to what's going on. Defining Intimacies have sway over every aspect of your life and worldview, and generally speaking you'd die to protect or uphold them. We aren't going to explain social influence for another 45 pages, though. Charms can occasionally be empowered by Intimacies. When these are in play, Minors are worth 2, Majors 3, and Defining 4 - so if a Charm adds dice based on Intimacy ratings, those are the numbers they use.

A character starts with whatever Intimacies are appropriate to them, but must have at least 4 Intimacies. Of those, one must be Defining, one must be Major, one must represent something the character opposes or dislikes, and one must represent something the character supports or likes. Intimacies can be gained in play in several ways, and can be overruled by the ST in any case. They must always make sense in terms of the events of the story, so you can't just gain them because it's mechanically beneficial to do so - you have to actually play out caring about this thing in the way you want. Social influence can create Minor Intimacies or strengthen Intimacies up by one level. Whenever the player feels it appropriate and the ST agrees, a character can gain a new Minor Intimacy or intensify an existing one by one step. In extremely rare cirucmstances, an Intimacy might be able to be gained at a higher level - such as if an Abyssal murders your sibling and you want to skip straight to Major or Defining Tie for hating that Abyssal.

Intimacies can be reduced similarly - they can be degraded one level by social influence, or even removed if Minor. When a player feels it appropriate and the ST agrees, you can just remove a Minor Intimacy or downgrade a Major or Defining one at the end of a scene. Whenever the ST judges you haven't played in a way that reflects the Intimacy, they may just declare it has been downgraded or even just vanished, largely to keep PCs from gaining a tton of Defining Intimacies, which the book says should come up in play at least once per story. I think the intent is the ST shouldn't prune out Major or Minor Intimacies much, just downgrade Defining ones that don't come up much.

The game also notes that extremely broad Intimacies ('I bow to no one'), while potentially legitimate, are also extremely powerful - they represent greater ability to resist a lot of influence, and if worded in away that breaks the system, they should be disallowed, such as overly generic or vague ones such as 'Some people just rub me the wrong way' or things that are specifically trying to be worded to game the system.

Next time: Health, healing and Essence.

Healthy Competition

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Healthy Competition

Health works as it generally has in exalted. You have a health bar, and each box on it has an associated wound penalty. All of your rolls and static values take the highest penalty of your filled boxes. By default, you have seven boxes: -0, -1, -1, -2, -2, -4, Incapacitated. Charms can give more, and Giant gives you an extra -0. Decisive Attacks can cause damage to your health, as can environmental hazards, poison or other similar effects. Damage is Bashing, Lethal or Aggravated. If your Incapacitated box fills with Bashing, you are unconscious. If it fills with Lethal or Aggravated, you are dead or dying (ST's choice). Bashing damage gets pushed further down your track when you take Lethal - so if you have 3 boxes filled with Bashing, then take two Lethal, your Bashing boxes get pushed down two spaces to make room for the lethal damage. However, if you take Bashing damage while your bar is already full of it, then it starts to upgrade the existing Bashing damage to Lethal, one for one. Aggravated damage is special damage caused, generally, by powerful magical effects. It functions as Lethal damage, but cannot be healed by magic or have its healing speed decreased. Only natural rest and healing will cure it, and it is always the last damage healed, after Bashing and Lethal. It pushes both Bashing and Lethal damage down your track, just like Lethal does to Bashing.

Fast healing is pretty much exclusively the realm of magic. Wounds do heal naturally, but it takes time, and it takes longer the worse you're wounded. Bashing damage heals first, then Lethal damage, then Aggravated, and damage always heals from the furthest health box first. Exalts, gods and other beings with Exalted-scale healing heal at the following rats:

Mortals heal significantly slower. A mortal will heal a -0 box at the -1 rate, a -1 at the -2 rate, and -2 at the -4 rate, and a -4 will take one week to heal (if Bashing) or one month (if Lethal or Aggravated). Mortals cannot heal -2 or -4 boxes at all unless they spend all their time resting, and if they take Lethal damage greater than or equal to their Stamina from any single attack, they will begin to bleed to death at the rate of 1L per minute until the bleeding is stopped with a Medicine roll. If a mortal is incapacitated with Lethal or Aggravated damage and somehow recovers, they will almost always suffer a permanent disability of some kind, though it can be minimized by medical treatment.

Essence flows through everything, and every Exalt has an Essence rating, which will in practice vary between 1 and 5. In theory, it can go higher than that I guess? In practice, no Charm with requirements higher than Essence 5 has been written or, per current devs, is ever planned. Your Essence rating helps determine the size of your Essence mote pools. That's how much Essence you have for use at any ghiven time, and it's split into two pools. Your Peripheral Mote Pool is the Essence which floats near the surface of your body, allowing it to more easily escape and ignite your anima banner when used. Your Personal Mote Pool lives in the depths of oyur soul, and is smaller, but can't escape so easily to make glowy lights. When you activate a Charm or power, you can spend from either pool, but all of it must come from the same pool unless that pool would not be enough to pay the full cost. Only if you are literally required to can you split the cost between pools.

In combat, all characters regain 5 motes of Essence at the end of each round. Combat stirs the Essence in the body and makes it regenerate more rapidly. Outside of combat, Essence regenerates at a rate of 5 motes per hour. If a character is totally relaxed, such as asleep, meditating, or just sitting there reading quietly, they double that to 10 motes per hour. The Peripheral pool regenerates before the Personal pool does. A Solar has (Essence Rating*3)+10 personal motes, and (Essence Rating*7)+26 peripheral motes.

As an Exalt taps their peripheral pool, their soul ignites, shining forth via their anima banner. Normally, this is an invisible aura, but when Essence flows through it, it flares with light. Gods and other non-human Essence users do not have anima banners, but Exalts mix mortal and divine, which causes their souls to glow. A character's anima banner reflects their nature in its colors, sounds and images, drawing on their personalits, beliefs and Caste. A Zenith priest, for example, may have a banner the color of the sun at noon, which as it grows takes the shape of a sacred mandala bearing the oaths he's sworn to the Unconquered Sun and to his people, accompanied by phantasmal smoke and the sound of hymns. A Night, on the other hand, might have an anima that flickers like a torch, with long shadows that shift over time into cloaked silhouettes and blades that mirror her movements.

When a character spends 5 or more motes of Peripheral Essence in a single action, their anima ignites, going up one level per 5 motes spent. Personal motes do not increase it, nor do Peripheral spending that is less than 5 motes. Some Charms require specific anima levels, while others may be able to lower your anima display. The levels (for Solars) are:
It takes 15 minutes without further ignitions for an anima to recede from Bonfire to Burning or Burning to Glowing, and half an hour to go from Glowing to Dim.

Not all Solar magic is Charms. All Solars have a few innate abilities that are shared by all of them, and another set that are available to them based on their Caste. These are anima effects, and any dice they may add to a roll do not count as dice from Charms, which means they can cause rolls to break normal caps on how many dice you can have.

Lastly, Experience. At the end of each session, every PC gains 5 XP. Further, players may earn Solar Experience during play. Solar Experience is like normal Experience, except that it cannot be spent on Solar Charms. Anything else, just not Solar Charms. You can earn up to 4 Solar XP per session - one Expression Bonus and one Role Bonus, each of which grants 2 Solar XP. An Expression Bonus is earned by doing any one of:
1. Expressing, supporting or engaging with a Major or Defining Intimacy in a way that reveals something about the PC, develops their personality, or provides an enjoyable character moment for the group.
2. Being significantly challenged, endangered or harmed as part of protecting or upholding a Major or Defining Intimacy.
3. Being significantly impeded, endangered or harmed by a Flaw.
A Role Bonus is earned by doing any one of:
1. Intentionally giving up the spotlight focus of a scene to another PC in a way that makes them get to shine in the role their Caste represents or directly supporting them in a cool or dramatic expression of their Caste function.
2. If a Dawn, defeating a powerful foe, defending a vulnerable party member with martial skill, using martial ability to directly advance a Major or Defining Principle or using martial ability to directly protect a Major or Defining Tie.
3. If a Zenith, inspiring others to uphold one of your Major or Defining Principles in a significant way, enduring great hardship in the name of a Major or Defining Intimacy, accomplishing a great deed that furthers a Major or Defining Principle, or making, defending or advancing some group or institution that expresses or supports a Major or Defining Principle.
4. If a Twilight, learning lost lore of the First Age or similar, learning something that helps advance or protect a Major or Defining Intimacy, discovering the mystic secrets of a supernatural being, solving a significant problem or crisis via knowledge or education, or creating a lasting and meaningful work of mystical power.
5. If a Night, removing a major impediment to your or your party's goals via assassination, blackmail or other criminal means, stealing something that directly furthers your or the party's goals, gaining a significant advantage over a dangerous foe via stealth or infultration, or upholding or protecting a Major or Defining Principle through criminal means.
6. If an Eclipse, bringing two or more parties to an accord in a meaningful dispute, gaining a notable advantage for yourself or the party via diplomacy, successful navigating or thwarting social or geographical obstacles that prevented you or the party from achieving a significant goal, exploiting a cultural tradition or legal system to further a Major or Defining Intimacy, bringing someone else's Intimacies closer to aligning with yours or the goals of the party, or inspiring or helping with the creation or transformation of a social institution.

In theory, training times exist, usually on the scale of weeks to months, or days for Caste/Favored stuff. I have never seen a ST who actually cared about them. You cannot spend experience to raise your Essence directly, which is new and actually something I approve of. Rather, after you spend a certain amount of XP, your Essence increases by 1 automatically in the next dramatically appropriate moment the ST wants or when you get a chance to go and meditate for days to months. Which, again, I don't think any ST will enforce that unless they actually want to be a dick. Note, however, that Solar XP doesn't count for your total XP spent. Only normal XP. This combined with the fact that they actually give strict rules for how much XP you should get per session means it's basically a real-time timer based on how often you play. This is stupid; give out XP based on what is appropriate and how fast you want advancement to come instead.

Next time: The part of the book that explains how dice am.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: RULES

So, before anything at all starts, the game declares three rules:
1. The Golden Rule: If you don't like a rule, change it.
2. The Orichalchum Rule: If the rules give a result that doesn't make sense for the story, ignore or change them.
3. The SToryteller's Rule: If a player is abusing the letter of the rules to fuck up the spirit of the game or story, the ST can declare it doesn't work.
Why you need three rules to cover Rule Zero, I don't know. But I guess we need them.

Then we get a big system glossary. Of those, a few terms are actually notable because they are rules not noted anywhere else:
Botch: a roll with no successes and at least one 1. When you botch, you will fail in such a way as to cause a dramatic complication.
Double X: A result of X counts as 2 successes. For all rolls except for Decisive damage rolls, 10s count. 9s, 8s or 7s can count in some circumstances.
TN: The number that you're aiming for, or target number, on dice. Almost all of the time it will be 7, so any given die has a 40% chance of at least one success.

Basic dicepools are as they have ever been - add some stats together, roll that many dice. Difficulty is how many successes you need to succeed on the roll, with Difficulty 1 being stuff that a mortal would find challenging but an Exalt can do fairly easily, like picking a lock or performing an appendectomy. Yes, those are their examples. Difficulty 2 would be something challenging or under duress, like doing either of those things in the dark, in the middle of a storm. Difficulty 3 is stuff that's hard even for Exalts, such as grabbing a gem out of a mass of snakes without getting bit or taming a man-eating, Wyld-tainted horse. Difficulty 4 is doing those under duress, such as while in the middle of a forest fire. Difficulty 5 is things that are nearly impossible even for heroes, such as reading a letter in total darkness by feeling the texture of the ink or safely landing in a hay cart from hundreds of feet up or running for three days straight. If, for some reason, a difficulty is reduced to 0 for a task, treat it as difficulty 1 but you can't botch. Most often this will happen because a low-Defense enemy suffers penalties to their Defense.

Because this is Exalted, stunts are a thing. In every edition they've existed, and have been somewhat misguided. They did their best here to fix some of the issues, but...well. To qualify as a stunt:
1. Your action must have a cooler description than 'I attack the guy' or similar.
2. Your action must not be boring. This is primarily meant, we are told, to stop repetition of the same stunt over and over, but also disqualifies any stunt so long and overwrought that it bores the table. The game does note, however, that the average player can and should stunt every action, and that STs should be generous with what counts.

Stunts come in 1, 2 or 3 point varieties. 1-Point Stunts give +2 dice to the roll. If the stunt is instead based around a static value, like describing how you block a slash to stunt your Defense value, then it instead gets +1. You should generally be able to get a 1-point stunt on every action. I play mostly online and in the few games I've been in, it's been a standard rule to just allow people to assume they get a 1-point stunt if they put in any effort whatsoever.
2-Point Stunts are less common, and should be given out for stuff that is memorable as a highlight of the scene. These gives +2 dice and +1 automatic success, or raise static values by 2. Also, the PC gains 1 Willpower, to a cap of their rating. The game suggests that a player will get 2-3 of these per session. For online play, I've found it easiest to say that if the majority of the players agree it's one, it is one. This keeps things flowing even in asynchronous play where the GM may not be always presnet.
3-Point Stunts are rare and meant to be very memorable, the highlight of an entire session. These give +2 dice and +2 automatic successes, or raise static values by 3. Also, the character gains 2 Willpower, which can go over their rating. As these are meant to be rare, even in online play I've usually seen them as left entirely to the GM to upgrade 2-point stunts to 3 if they feel it appropriate.
The game does at least note that the ST is encouraged not to fuck over players who go for a risky-seeming stunt, such as hurling themselves off a building to grab a flying foe, and fail the roll. They should not be punished for reckless heroism, and should always at least get a chance to save themselves from a fuckup because they tried something cool but didn't pull it off.

Bonuses and penalties! Most of these are obvious, but it should be noted that dicepools and static values cannot be reduced below 0 by penalties, and bonuses from charms have some special limits that won't be explained until the Charm chapter. The game gives examples of penalties in various circumstances, but not bonuses. Fortunately, most things that give bonuses will just straight up tell you how much bonus thy give, but still, I'd think examples would be good.
Extended actions are those where what matters is how fast you do a thing rather than whether you succeed. These are done as a series of normal rolls. However, there are three additional factors: goal number, interval and terminus. The goal number is how many successes you will need to gather over the entire thing. If you're making difficulty 2 rolls, however, only the successes that hit or exceed that 2-success count are used - your first success on the roll doesn't go towards your goal number, because each roll needs 2 successes to be successful per the Difficulty rules. A botch on any roll in the action ruins the entire thing and you have to start over. The interval is how long each roll takes, which could be anything from one turn to one week or more, depending on what is being attempted. Lastly, the terminus is the limit on how many rolls you can make. If you don't hit your goal number in that many rolls, you fail the action. Not all extended rolls will have a terminus, but most will.

Opposed actions are simpler - you roll against someone else, and whoever gets more successes wins. In a tie, the winner is whoever has the best stunt. (Which against NPCs will exclusively be a PC, I believe, so that's nice. I don't think NPCs can stunt.)

Typically, on your turn, you can only do one action. Reflexive actions, however, can happen at any time, automatically, without taking up your action for the round or it needing to be your turn. For example, rolling to spot someone hiding is a reflexive action, taking no special time or effort on the part of the PC, as is rolling Resistance to fight off disease. Movement is the most common reflexive action in the system.

Next time: Combat.

How Am Fight

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: How Am Fight

Okay, so. The combat section doesn't actually explain how fights start for some time but I'm rearranging it so I can explain a fight in the order it actually happens. Fights begin with a Join Battle roll, which determines your starting Initiative. This is an Awareness roll, but you add 3 to the number of successes you get. If someone joins a fight midway through, they roll Join Battle to determine their Initiative on the round they come in. Characters act in Initiative order, so someone with 7 Initiative goes before someone with 4. In theory, actions happen on ticks, starting at the highest Initiative rating and then going down by 1 per tick, with everyone acting on the appropriate tick. In practice, that part only matters for special effects which care about what tick they happen on.

However, Initiative does not remain static. The purpse of Withering Attacks is to gain Initiative and lower the Initiative of opponents. When you make a Withering ATtack on someone, you make a Dex+<appropriate combat ability> roll, modified by weapon accuracy and any other modifiers against their Defense. If you miss, nothing happens. If you hit, you determine your raw damage, which is calculated based on your Strength, your weapon and any extra successes after you got enough to hit the guy in the attack roll. Some weapons, mostly stuff like crossbows or firewands (read: flamethrower pistols) leave out Strength from their damage. You then take your raw damage and reduce it by the target's soak, which is based on their Stamina and any armor or natural bonuses. You cannot have your damage reduced below your weapon's Overwhelming rating, however. Then you roll that many dice, and unlike with Decisive Attacks, you do get Double 10s. For every success, you gain 1 Initiative and the target loses 1 Initiative. Fictionally, these attacks do not deal lasting damage, usually taking the form of glancing blows or the opponent desperately defending but getting pushed into bad positions. Your character is still trying to kill them, even though you know you won't do any permanent damage out of character.

Decisive Attacks are attacks that attempt to land actual damage. Again, you start with Dexterity+<relevant combat ability>, but your weapon's stats have no bearing on your roll whatsoever. If you miss and your Initiative is 10 or less, you lose 2 Initiative; if you had more than 10, you lose 3 Initiative. If you hit, your damage pool is your Initiative, and does not get Double 10s. If your target has Hardness greater than or equal to your damage pool, you do no damage, period. Otherwise, you roll your pool and deal your successes in damage, which will generally be Bashing or Lethal based on what weapon you're using. Either way, after you hit, your Initiative value resets to 3.

So as you can see, the entire combat minigame is trying to build up your Initiative high enough to do some real damage, reset to base 3 Initiative, and continue until the enemy either surrenders or dies. Unlike all other traits, Initiative can be sent into the negative numbers, and there is no cap on how high it can get or how low. If a character's Initiative drops to 0 or below, they are in Initiative Crash. While Crashed, a character's Hardness is reduced to 0 and cannot be raised by any effect that does not explicitly state it works in Crash (such as the Twilight anima power). While Crashed, a character cannot attempt Decisive Attacks at all, or use any Charms with the Perilous keyword. Withering Attacks can still be used on a Crashed character, driving their Initiative further and further down. However, if the ST decides that the Crashed character has no chance of recovery at all and is merely serving as a punching dummy to gain Initiative, the ST may declare them defeated the next time they get hit by anything. If a character spends 3 consecutive turns in Crash, their Initiative resets to 3 at the start of their next turn. If someone enters Initiative Crash as the result of their own actions, such as by doing something that costs Initiative to attempt, they immediately lose 5 Initiative on top of whatever their action cost them.

When your attack sends someone into Initiative Crash, you get an Initiative Break bonus, immediately gaining +5 Initiative. You cannot gain this bonus from an enemy in the round they recover from Crash or the round after they do so. If you sent yourself into Initiative Crash, the Initiative Break bonus goes to whoever most directly provoked your action, as determined by the ST. If you, while Crashed, are able to Crash the person that Crashed you, you instantly return to base Initiative unless this would be lower than where you are after the attack, then make A Join Battle roll, adding the result to your Initiative. You then get to immediately take a new turn when your Initiative comes up, as if you had not acted this round. However, if you use this turn to attack, you can only attack the person you Crashed; this is called Initiative Shift. If you Crashed yourself, you cannot get an Initiative Shift.

Defense is actually two traits - Parry and Evasion. Parry is based on your Dex and the most appropriate of Brawl, MArtial Arts or Melee; if you're using a ranged weapon, you can't parry. Evasion is based on Dex and Dodge. Weapons usually provide a bonus to Parry, while armor often penalizes Evasion. You use the higher of your two values as your Defense, which is the difficulty of any attack against you. However, there is a way to get past high Defense even if you can't roll well - every time a character is attacked, they suffer a -1 cumulative penalty to their Defense until their next turn. Also, certain attacks may be unblockable, in whcih case, you can't use Parry against them, or undodgeable, in which case you can't use Evasion. If an attack is both, it is a difficulty zero roll to hit with it.

Also, side note - if somehow you gain Initiative before your turn in a round, and it would raise your Initiative past the tick that the combat is currently on, you get to act immediately and take your turn. Gaining Initiative can never cause you to lose your turn. So they did think of that. Also, you may choose to delay your action to any later tick, which may be a useful strategy if you are aiming for a Clash. More on that later. However, each time you do, you get -2 Initiative.

On your turn, you can only take one action, normally, unless you flurry. A flurry allows you to take two actions, as long as they are different kinds of action, but you get a -3 penalty to both and -1 Defense until your next turn. What actions can you do in combat?
1. Attack. Both Withering and Decisive Attacks count as Attacks.
2. Aim. You declare who you are aiming at. If you attack them next turn, you get +3 to your roll, as long as they remain within your range and out of full cover. You must make an Aim action if attacking from Medium or greater range, even with magical assistance, and you get no bonus to the attack roll - you simply can make one. You only get the bonus if you spend an additional turn aiming. Aim cannot be placed in a flurry, perod.
3. Defend Other. You protect an ally within Close Range, allowing them to use your Parry against attacks until your next turn. If an attack gets past your Parry, the attacker may choose either to hit you or to keep going with however many threshold successes they had to attack their original target, who may defend normally. If the attack was Decisive, the attacker also gets a penalty to their damage roll.
4/ Draw/Ready Weapon. You draw a weapon and get -1 Defense until your next turn. However, unless ambushed, characters are assumed to start combat with the weapon of their choice already ready. Also, natural weapons such as fists or claws never need to be readied.
5. Full Defense. You get +2 Defense until your next turn, but lose 1 Initiative. This cannot be flurried with anything except social influence actions, and cannot be used in Initiative Crash.
6. Miscellaneous Action. Anything that isn't the above.

Ranges! All range in Exalted is abstract. The ranged are: Close, which is close enough to hit in melee. When in Close Range of a foe, you must make a Disengage action if you want to move away from them. Short Range, which is too far to hit in melee but close enough to reach with a brief sprint. Medium Range is a fair distance, and is about as far as most thrown weapons and weaker archery weapons can hit. It is far enough to prevent non-shouted communication, and at this range, ranged attacks must have an Aim action made before they can hit at all, as noted above. Long Range is very far, and is typically only useful for longbows and other sniping weapons. Communication is impossible without signalling devices, magic, or enthusiastic miming. As above, aiming is required for any ranged attack to hit at all. Extreme Range is essentially the hrozion. Combat and communication are generally impossible barring extremely specialized magic, and even then, aiming is still required.

Movement in combat can only be done once per round, barring things that make specific exception to this such as Initiative Shift. The possible movement actions are:
1. Move. A character can move a single range band towards any single character or landmark present in the battle as a reflexive action.
2. Rush. You can only do this towards a foe within Short Range, but can do so even after a reflexive Move. A Rush is your action for the turn, and is a contested Dex+Athletics roll between you and your foe. If you succeed, as soon as your opponent moves at least one Range Band, you immediately and reflexively move one Range Band towards them, maintaining relative distance. (You still need to be physically able to do the thing - you can't Rush a bird that flies away unless you also can fly.)
3. Disengage. This is a combat action that must be taken if you wish to move away from Close Range with foes, which cannot be done with the normal reflexive Move. This is a Dodge roll opposed by an Athletics roll from any foe that wants to stop you. If you beat all of them, you move to Short Range, and will reflexively retreat one further band away from any of those foes if they move towards you before your next turn. You lose 2 Initiative, even if you fail to Disengage.
4. Rise From Prone. You stand up, and it's a combat action. It is not rolled unless a foe is at Close Range, in which case it's a Dodge check to stand up.
4. Take Cover. This is a combat action where you duck behind an object, making a Dodge roll against an ST-set difficulty. Cover may be light, heavy or full. Light cover is a doorway or waist-high wall, something that covers a significant part of your body but not all of it. It gives +1 Defense. Heavy Cover covers most of your body, except maybe part of your head or an arm, such as an arrow slit or an extremely large tree. It gives +2 Defense. Full Cover covers everything. It prevents all ranged attacks. Foes at Close Range get the same cover benefit as whoever they are attacking or being attacked by, as the cover works just as well for both of them. The ST may rule that someone who takes movement actions to get past cover can force the cover to no longer apply.
5. Withdraw. You attempt to escape the field completely as an extended Athletics roll, aiming for 10 total successes with an interval of 1 round. You can only do this if you are at no less than Medium Range from all foes, and doing so causes you to move one range band away from them and to lose 10 Initiative per round, even if this puts you in the negatives. Success on the extended roll moves you another range band away from all foes. Once you are at Extreme Range from all foes, you leave the battle entirely and cannot be caught.

Next time: Terrain, Gambits and Grappling

Insert Cajunism Here

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Insert Cajunism Here

Difficult Terrain rules are shockingly simple. Difficult Terrain is whatever the GM says it is – climbing past deadfalls, wading through swamps, trying to advance past fortifications, moving in deep snow or through thick crowds. The GM can even use it for locked doors that require you to go around and find another entrance if they want. It takes two Move reflexive actions to travel through a range band of Difficult Terrain rather than one. Further, any attempt to Rush, Disengage or Withdraw across Difficult Terrain gets -3 to the roll, and typically it’s very easy to find cover in Difficult Terrain.

We now get a new type of combat action: Gambits. Gambits are technically a special form of Decisive Attack. They don’t deal damage; instead, they allow you to use special maneuvers. The game presents four “universal” example gambits that anyone can use, and suggests that you come up with your own for any crazy maneuvers not covered by other stuff in the combat chapter. If the ST has no idea what an action might be, it’s probably a gambit. Some Charms also require gambits to be able to be used. To perform a gambit, you say what you’re trying and make a Decisive Attack roll. If you miss, you lose Initiative as normal. If you succeed, you roll your Initiative, but rather than damage, you are trying to match or beat your gambit’s Difficulty. If you succeed, the gambit happens. If you fail, it doesn’t. Either way, you lose (Difficulty+1) Initiative rather than resetting to 3. You cannot use a gambit that would send you into Initiative Crash.

Disarm (Difficulty 3): You knock a foe’s weapon away. It lands at Short Range of them, and retrieving it requires getting to it and using a Draw/Ready Weapon action in most circumstances.
Unhorse (Difficulty 4): You knock a foe off their mount. They take 1B damage and fall prone, and the mount will typically flee in the confusion. (This is deliberately easier than killing a mount would be, most of the time, explicitly because players don’t usually like having their mounts get killed. In “particularly gritty” games, a Difficulty 5 version lets you shoot the horse out from under someone.)
Distract (Difficulty 3-5): You feint or otherwise trick a foe into the path of an ally’s Decisive Attack. You declare an ally that isn’t in Crash; they gain all Initiative you lose as a result of successfully using this, but they must Decisive Attack your target on their next turn or they lose it again. A character can only benefit from one distraction bonus at a time.
Grapple (Difficulty 2): You enter a clinch with your target, which will be detailed in a bit because they’re more complex. Short form, though? Grappling is mildly terrifying.

When designing your own gambits, we are told, you should balance the difficulty against how useful the gambit is, because these things would usually be overpowered if you could do them freely over and over without cost. Because 7 successes on a Decisive Attack is usually enough to take out or kill someone, gambits should usually have Difficulty under 7, as their main advantage at that point is that they don’t reset you to base Initiative, unless custom-designed for use against something that would have more than 7 Health Levels.

So, grappling. Once you’ve used your Grapple gambit to start a clinch or grapple (the two words are used interchangeably) you then make an opposed Brawl or Martial Arts roll with your target, the control roll. If the target wins or ties, they escape the grapple on their next turn. If you win, you gain control of the grapple this turn, and maintain it for a number of rounds equal to how much you won by. After that, the target automatically escapes. If you enter Crash, your target escapes. While in a grapple, both you and your target get -2 Defense and cannot use flurries at all. Your target cannot take movement actions, gets -1 to one-handed attacks and -3 to any attacks using two-handed weapons. Every time you are attacked and/or take damage from any source, you lose 1 turn of grapple control. So if you get attacked twice and one of them deals damage to you (Initiative damage or decisive damage), you lose 3 rounds of control – two for being attacked, one for taking damage.

During each turn in which you have control, including the one you begin the grapple, you choose one effect:
1. Savage – You choose either Withering or Decisive. For Withering, you make an attack roll against Defense 0, which hits automatically even if you get no successes. For Decisive, you just roll your Initiative in damage, no attack roll required, and reset to base Initiative.
2. Restrain/Drag – This uses up two rounds of control rather than one, and you cannot use it on your initial turn of control if the opponent won the roll. Your foe cannot take action at all on their next turn, and if you take a movement action, your foe is dragged along with you.
3. Throw/Slam – This is identical to Savage, except that you end the clinch prematurely by slamming or throwing your foe. For every turn of control this forfeits, a Withering attack roll gets +2 dice, and a Decisive damage roll gets +1 dice, to a max of (Strength) turns. Any extra after that is lost. The opponent ends up prone no matter what. Decisive slams/throws usually deal Bashing unless you have something particularly nasty to throw the person onto.
4. Release – You reflexively end the grapple early. This can be done at any time.
And as a note, without special magic, you can’t grapple shit that doesn’t make sense, like an entire army, a t-rex (too big) or a kaiju-sized zombie death fortress (definitely too big).

Crippling injuries are a thing, but entirely voluntary. This is because Exalts are really, really hard to cripple. There are benefits to choosing to be crippled if you want it, though. Once per story, after you take at least 3 levels of Lethal damage, you may choose to negate up to all but 2 levels of that damage. (That is – you can choose negate whatever you want, but you must take at least 2L after negating damage.) If this damage would still kill or Incapacitate you, you just mark off your last box before being Incapacitated. Depending on how much damage was negated, you get a different injury.
1-2 Levels: You suffer a maiming wound that impairs the function of a body part or sense, such as losing an eye, half your fingers or half a foot.
3-4 Levels: You lose an entire sense or extremity, such as being blinded, having your tongue cut out, losing a hand or “suffer maiming of his generative organs.” So glad to know that you can get your dick cut off in favor of going blind.
5+ Levels: You lose an entire limb.
During a scene where you suffer a Crippling injury from 3+ levels of damage negated, you double all wound penalties.

We’ve talked about how some attacks can force you prone before. While prone, you get -1 Parry, -2 Evasion and -3 to all attacks, and you can’t take any movement actions except rising from prone. You also automatically fail any attempt to resist Rush or Disengage actions. So that’s that. We also get a brief sidebar on ammo tracking. Option 1: Track all ammo. Option 2: Call for a roll every five rounds or so to see if a character runs out of ammo, as long as the PC has been shooting people fairly often. The roll is an Archery or Thrown one, with cumulative -1 penalties each time. Failure means you run out and need to get more, which will usually be an Awareness, Survival or War check with difficulty based on how easy it is to scavenge ammo in the area – possibly impossible, in the case of stuff like firedust. Personally I hate both options; I go with ‘you have enough ammo until you botch, which may well wipe out your ammo supplies.’

Next: Clash Attacks. This is a special situation in which two characters attack each other on the exact same tick. In these cases, defense ceases to matter. Clash attacks ignore Defense. Instead, the two attack rolls are treated as opposed, and whoever rolls better wins, getting the hit in and avoiding being hit. If a Clash is Withering, it adds its threshold successes to its damage, and does an additional 3 Initiative damage after damage is rolled. If a Clash is Decisive, it adds one additional damage after damage is rolled. Also, no matter what, the loser of a Clash gets -2 Defense until their next turn.

Next time: Mounted Combat and Stealth

Why Horses Are Amazing

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Why Horses Are Amazing

Being mounted in combat is broadly speaking an upgrade. It has a few downsides but not many. Mounts give a bonus to Rush, Disengage and Withdraw rolls based on their Speed Bonus, which is listed in the statblock of whatever mount. There’s also a list given in the combat chapter; short form, horses and simhatas (which are essentially carnivorous war llamas) are the best at this. While mounted, you get +1 to Withering Attacks against non-mounted, human-scale foes, and +2 against any battle groups not armed with Reaching weapons. Also, you get +1 Defense against melee attacks from non-mounted foes unless they use Reaching weapns. The exception: flying mounts. You get none of these combat bonuses from reading a flying mount such as a giant Megatalapan war hawk, and instead your bonus is you can fly. Extremely large mounts, such as yeddim, tyrant lizards or mammoths, render you unable to be attacked at all in melee except via Reaching weapons unless foes climb onto your mount first. However, you also can’t attack foes in melee unless you have a Reaching weapon or they’re on your mount.

Mounts are generally not tracked with their own Initiative in combat, though the ST may rule they can have one if they are close to being characters rather than just mount animals or are significantly more dangerous than their riders. Unless a mount has its own Initiative, all Withering Attacks on it are considered to target the rider. Decisive Attacks can target the mount separately, but it is usually a better option to attempt an Unhorse gambit. You can get barding for your mount to armor it up, and can attach weapons to your mount. Barding is identical to normal person armor, but the Mobility penalties are applied to the mount’s Speed Bonus, which can convert it to a penalty in some cases. If the mount is not tracking Initiative, armor reduces Decisive damage against the mount (and the mount only) - -2 damage for light armor, -4 for medium, -6 for heavy. Weapons allow access to special techniques or advantages – adding horns or spikes lets your mount learn how to gore people, similar to beasts with natural horns. A lance mounted on your mount, on the other hand, just lets you wield it as a normal heavy weapon, but it can’t be disarmed, and it lets you make impale attacks. To make an impale attack, you have to make an attack after moving two consecutive range bands towards your foe, and it gives your attack +5 damage if Withering, or +3 damage if Decisive. Ordering your mount to attack someone takes up your combat action, and while it can be flurried, it is considered an attack action so you and your horse can’t both attack at once. In case anyone cares, there is a sidebar on the time required to put armor and saddles on mounts.

Stealth! Stealth is rolled as a Stealth check opposed by Awareness checks. If you manage to gain stealth during combat, you can make an unexpected attack. These are subdivided into ambushes and surprise attacks. An ambush is an attack on someone totally unaware of your presence at all. Generally, it’s only possible to ambush in the first round of a fight, and only against someone lower than you on the Initiative order, because after that, everyone is aware a fight is happening. In an ambush, the target’s Defense is dropped to 0 for the attack. Surprise Attacks are attacks launched from stealth against foes that are on the lookout for danger, even if they may not know where you personally are. These only give the target a -2 Defense penalty. You can attempt to re-stealth as a combat action, but it cannot be placed in a flurry. While in stealth, you can’t Rush, and if you want to move at all you must have somewhere to hide where you’re moving to and must make a reflexive Stealth roll to keep from being spotted while moving. Normally, re-establishing or attempting stealth in combat is done at -3, but if you’re moving over open ground as you’re stealthing about, you do it at -5 instead.

If you can ambush a target, you may choose instead to hold them at bay. This prevents you from attacking and dealing damage, but instead takes them hostage for several rounds by, say, putting a knife to their throat. You may then interrogate, threaten or otherwise interact with them for rounds equal to how much you beat their Initiative by. If they choose to struggle or escape before that many rounds pass, you can immediately make a Decisive ambush attack against them, which ignores not only their Defense but also their Hardness, and deals +5 automatic damage. If you choose to attack them before the time is up, however, they can defend normally. If the target instead chooses to cooperate with you, you get +1 Resolve and Guile for the duration and they get -2 Resolve and Guile for the duration. If they haven’t surrendered by the time your hostage period ends, you both roll Join Battle to see who goes first, though the hostage rolls at -2. If you win, you can immediately launch a standard ambush attack.

If you want to get out of a fight but your foes seem unlikely to accept a surrender and you see little chance of outpacing them all, you may attempt to go to ground. To do this, you must already be in stealth. Then, you must make a Stealth check to maintain stealth for the next three turns, with the first turn being at -3, the second at -4 and the last at -5. If you successfully beat all Awareness checks on those three rolls, you are so well hidden that no one can find you unless you voluntarily show yourself. If you attempt to rejoin the fight, however, you enter at -10 Initiative and are Crashed.

Certain effects cause uncountable damage, such as an avalanche large enough to wipe out a town, or an exploding manse. When someone takes uncountable damage, the ST decides what happens. Usually, this will be death, but it may be permissible to allow a roll to survive and merely be incapacitated. Exalts have Charms to deal with uncountable damage; mortals are less lucky.

So, for groups of similar makeupm, such as a gang of mortal bandits, an army of soldiers or a rioting mob, battle groups exist. This is an abstraction for these groups of similar NPCs that are not sufficiently notable to be individuals, and can represent anywhere from two to six guards to a thousand soldiers. They are all represented as a single character, but with a number of bonuses. Battle groups only perform withering attacks, but when they attack someone in Crash, their attacks deal actual damage. Withering attacks against them do not reduce their Initiative, but instead deal damage to their special health bar, called Magnitude. They are hard to destroy outright, but will usually flee if beaten badly. They have three traits that a normal character doesn’t, on top of that special Magnitude bar: Size, Drill and Might.

Size represents how many members the group has, ranging from 0 (for 2-3 people, who probably should just be individuals) to 1 (6-12) to 5 (1000 or so). If you have an appreciable number more than a thousand, make a second battlegroup for them – 1020, sure you’re fine, but if you have 1300, that’s probably a Size 5 group and a Size 3 one. Increased Size makes a battle group better at essentially everything. Drill represents how well the group works together. It is either Poor (which gives the group penalties to several actions), Average (+1 Defense), or Elite (+2 to command rolls and +2 Defense). Might represents how magical the group is, ranging from 0 to 3. Might 0 is mortals, and has no effects. Might 1 is mildly supernatural – beastmen, Wyld mutants or units bearing a divine blessing might be Might 1, and get a small bonus to attacks, damage and Defense. Might 2 represents highly magical forces, such as minor spirits, first circle demons, warrior ghosts, lesser elementals or Fair Folk, and get a small bonus to Defense and a slightly better one to attacks. Might 3 is for an army made primarily of Dragon-Bloods or similarly powerful beings, and generally you don’t run into them – those are almost always worth treating as individuals and almost never gather in numbers enough to make for Might 3 battle groups of similar beings. They get a large bonus to attacks and Defense.

Battle groups, on top of the rules above, have a few others. While they can make only a single attack per turn like anyone else, they can attack multiple people with it. For melee attacks, they attack every foe directly near them. For ranged attacks, they select a primary target; if that’s another battle group, it resolves normally. If it’s a person, the attack hits everyone, friend or foe, within Close Range of that person. Battle groups cannot lose Initiative, but withering attacks deal damage directly to their Magnitude. Successful withering attacks on them generate only 1 Initiative. A Magnitude track is equal to the base health levels of the members of the battle group (usually 7) plus its Size. If a unit runs out of Magnitude, it must make a rout check and even if it survives, it drops 1 Size and gets a new Magnitude bar of the appropriate size. Any leftover damage is then applied to that, which can cause it to immediately need to check for rout again if it’s enough damage. If you cause a unit to drop in Size with an attack, you get an Initiative Break as if you’d Crashed them. The rout check is a Willpower roll with various modifiers to the Difficulty for the situation; if the battle group fails it, they break and flee. Battle groups also cannot grapple, but instead use Engage actions – these work similarly, but can only use the Savage option, based on the group’s weapons, and require no “damage” roll to pull off the gambit – they are considered to automatically succeed at that. This works by the group surrounding and pinning you down with force of numbers.

Next time: More on battle groups.

Army Time

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Army Time

I just want to note: I actually like the battle group rules, by and large. They provide a good way to handle mooks and can actually be threatening, in sufficient numbers or ability. It makes an army of mortals actually matter, which was a bit of an issue. Anyway, continuing on with those rules – battle groups move normally, but depending on their size, they may be gigantic enough to span entire range bands between other people. Thus, individual characters can move through them as if they were Difficult Terrain, but it costs 1 Initiative per round spent doing so. Battle groups cannot move through each other, however. Battle groups also do not need to take disengage actions to move away from any foe at least 2 points of Size smaller than they are. They can spread out to cover more space, but if there’s more than 10 yards between the members of the battle group, all bonuses from Size stop existing, and those are…sizable, pardon the pun. So it’s probably not the best idea to spread your soldiers so each one has 30 feet of empty space around them.

All these rules cover battle groups that are, essentially, leaderless and operating autonomously. Even allied battlegroups or those owned by PCs will be controlled by the GM most of the time. However, sometimes an individual hero will take direct command of battle groups. To do this requires command actions. To be able to issue a command action to a battle group, you must either by their recognized leader or a known hero to the group that they see as trustworthy and worth following in battle. There are three different types of command you can give: order, rally or rally for numbers. You can’t flurry any of them, and your battle group must be able to understand your orders – most typically, this means shouting them to subordinate officers, using signal relays or relying on battlefield magic to deliver them.

Issuing a command is a War action, with the attribute involved based on how you’re leading. Intelligence is used if you’re not actively participating in combat but are issuing orders over a distance, such as by signals. Charisma or Appearance are used for leading from the front, with the former for exhorting your troops on and the latter for leading by example. An Order action causes your soldiers to perform the action you tell them to, adding your successes on the roll as bonus successes to all actions they take in that turn. Rally actions are taken for allied battlegroups that failed rout checks, intervening before they dissolve entirely. You make a War check to beat their rout check, and if you succeed, they recover. Rally for numbers lets you make a War check to heal Magnitude damage, at 1 Magnitude per 2 successes, though it can’t increase Size or raise the battlegroup over its max. A battle group can only benefit from this benefit once per battle, but if it loses a point of Size, that resets the limit.

Certain battle groups also have perfect morale, generally due to being mindless and therefore incapable of fear. They never rout and will not retreat unless ordered to do so. They get +3 Magnitude over normal, but cannot rally for numbers at all, as their casualties are all deaths or injuries rather than fleeing soldiers. In the Second Age, this is primarily zombies and similar. We also get special rules for chasing down and slaughtering fleeing battle groups, though I have no idea why anyone thought they were needed. Gotta have them massacre rules, I guess? But basically when a battle group routs you can take an action to chase down and murder a bunch of the fleeing soldiers.

Strategic War is next – a basic system for use when two militaries clash. Essentially, the way it works is that the two leaders of the armed forces decide on a stratagem they intend to use, then make opposed War rolls, modified based on any circumstances and advantages they might have to implementing their strategy. Whoever wins the roll and rolls well enough to implement their stratagem – you need to do both – gets to enact their plan. Each stratagem modifies the circumstances under which the ensuing combat happens, because yes, you then play out the combat between the battle groups and any PCs involved. If you win the War roll but don’t roll high enough to match the threshold successes required by your stratagem, then the fight happens without any special rules.

Example stratagems:
Back to the Sea (Threshold 1): You force the enemy into terrain where they can’t retreat or escape. The enemy cannot take Withdraw actions, and any Size loss among the enemy is due to death or injury. Slaughter actions are “vastly more effective” than normal, but since those are basically entirely GM ruling for how well they work anyway, that’s not super meaningful. The enemy’s Rally For Numbers actions cost 3 successes per point of Magnitude restored.
Strategic Placement (Threshold 1): You force the fight onto ground that helps you in some way, such as Fair Folk forcing a battle in the Wyld or Abyssals in a shadowland. There are no mechanical benefits to this other than that the normal effects of wherever you’re fighting occur.
Demoralized (Threshold 2): You ravage enemy supply lines or otherwise demoralize the enemy. They get -1 to all rout checks and Command actions.
Fortifications (Threshold 2): You force the enemy to fight on your prepared ground. The enemy begins the fight at Long Range of your forces and treats the entire battlefield as Difficult Terrain. Your forces treat it as normal terrain.
Ambush (Threshold 3): You pull the enemy into a trap. All attacks your forces make during the first round are considered ambush attacks, and all attacks your forces make for 3 rounds after that are considered surprise attacks.
Pincer Attack (Threshold 3): You trap the foe between multiple fronts. The enemy gets a -1 onslaught penalty throughout the entire fight.

Now, social influence. The basic mechanic here is the influence roll, which involves a social attribute and relevant skill rolled against someone’s Resolve. Success lets you influence a character’s feelings or beliefs or get them to do a thing for you. Occasionally other rolls may be used, like Socialize for trying to read people. All influence rolls are based around either altering Intimacies or trying to persuade someone to do what you want. If you aren’t exploiting an Intimacy somehow, social influence does not work, period. You can’t get someone to do something if they have no reason to care at all. The stronger the Intimacy, the easier it is to convince someone to do what you want. Unlike combat, there’s really not an initiative order. Folks just go in whatever order makes sense in the scene. If a decision really needs to be made, it goes in order of who has highest Wits+Socialize, with the ST breaking ties as they like.

Your primary defensive values against social influence are Resolve and Guile. Resolve represents your strength of will and resistance to persuasion, and is based on your Integrity. If you choose to apply your Resolve against social influence, it means you’re skeptical – if you’re happy to accept whatever’s being said, no rolls are needed. Guile is based on your Socialize, and is your ability to conceal your intentions and feelings. While Resolve resists most actual influence attempts, Guile resists the Read Intentions action, which is the core of how people discover Intimacies. Intimacies also modify Resolve – either up or down. Only the most relevant Intimacy in either direction is used, however, and they can cancel each other out. A Minor Intimacy gives +2 Resolve when used to oppose social influence, or -1 Resolve when used to support social influence. A Major Intimacy gives +3 Resolve or -2 Resolve. A Defining Intimacy gives +4 Resolve or -3 Resolve.

The primary social actions are:
1. Instill. You are trying to influence what someone feels or believes. On a successful roll, the target forms an Intimacy towards whatever belief you were trying to get them to care about. You can always use Instill to give Minor Intimacies, but it’s much harder to alter an existing one. Strengthening a Minor or weakening a Major can only be done if the target has a different Minor or better Intimacy that supports the attempt. Strengthening a Major or weakening a Defining can only be done if they have a different Major or better Intimacy that supports it. Further, strengthening an existing Intimacy requires that any evidence or argument you use must be more compelling than whatever caused the original Intimacy.
2. Persuade. You are trying to convince someone to do something for you. Without an Intimacy to support such a roll, you can only convince people to perform trivial, relatively risk-free actions, like handing over a single coin. With a Minor Intimacy supporting you, you can convince people to perform Inconvenient tasks, those which involve mild danger or hindrance, so long as it wouldn’t seriously disrupt their life or livelihood, such as by causing severe injury, pissing off their boss or causing heavy financial loss. They may do things that take more than a scene to accomplish, but only if it won’t disrupt their life to do so. With a Major Intimacy supporting you, you can convince people to perform Serious tasks, which may carry risk of harm or even death, such as convincing a farmer to join a militia or an herbalist to sell you illegal poisons. However, they will not do anything that is almost certain to kill or ruin them. They will, however, be willing to perform tasks requiring extended periods of time, even if they involve joining some organization to do or other long-term commitments. With a Defining Intimacy supporting you, you can convince people to perform Life-Changing tasks. That could be almost anything. If you succeed at persuasion, they’ll only stop if the chance of death or ruin is utterly unavoidable, and even then, the ST may rule an NPC is willing anyway.
3. Bargain. This is like Persuade, but it doesn’t rely on the target’s Intimacies as much. Instead, you offer a bribe, gift or favor that the target believes is of equivalent value to what you want them to do, taking into account their Intimacies, wealth and status.
4. Threaten. This works like Bargain, in that it doesn’t care about Intimacies. Rather, you present the target with something they don’t want, and threaten to do it if they don’t obey. You may also use this in place of Instill to cause or grow Intimacies of fear towards you. However, for this to work, the target must fear your threat more than whatever you want them to do. Also, any use of Threaten, regardless of success, causes the target to form an immediate negative Tie towards you, with the target’s choice of context. This may also weaken any positive Ties the target has towards you at the target’s option.
5. Inspire. You inspire a specific emotion in the target. On a success, the target feels that emotion, but they choose what form it takes. They may form a new Intimacy, act on an existing Intimacy based on the passion evoked in them, or otherwise do something to reflect the emotion they’re feeling. They do not have to drop everything to act on the inspiration, but they must genuinely resolve to do something. This does not have to involve creating or strengthening Intimacies, but is often appropriate. Further, an inflamed passion may be treated as a Major Intimacy for purposes of Resolve and persuasion for as long as the target is acting on it. However, you don’t automatically know what passion you’ve actually inspired without using a Read Intentions action, and without magic, you can’t tailor the outcome of your Inspire actions to specific targets.
6. Read Intentions. You read what someone else is trying to achieve. If you succeed on a Socialize check against their Guile, you get a brief description of what they want out of a social interaction. Alternatively, you may attempt to determine their Intimacies. Before rolling, you must say what kind of Intimacy you’re looking for (‘Does he love anyone’ or ‘how does he feel about the Immaculate Faith’ are both good examples.) If they have one, you learn it (but only one – if multiple fit, the ST picks one). If they don’t, you learn that. This isn’t magical – it’s just reading how people behave, and so it may be difficult to learn things like who someone is in love with unless they’re also present or the person has some evidence of their identity on them. Someone unaware of being observed gets -2 Guile.

Next time: The Sexy Bonus and How Not To Be Persuaded

Sexy Time

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Sexy Time

Having high Appearance makes you inherently better at impressing and awing people (or intimidating them, if you are Hideous). If your Appearance is higher than your target’s Resolve, you get a bonus to Instill and Persuade actions based on the difference (or Threaten, for Hideous). So that’s why being sexy matters…well, that and Appearance is a viable stat to roll for social influence if you can find a way to justify it. So it’s good at everything.

But Mors, you say! What if I don’t want to be persuaded? Well, you have options. Even if your Resolve is overcome, you aren’t defenseless. You can spend Willpower! 1 Willpower will automatically prevent any influence that is trying to change how you feel – that is, by making, destroying or changing an Intimacy. Spending 1 Willpower will:
1. Stop a new Intimacy from being made, period.
2. Stop a Major or Defining Intimacy from being weakened.
3. Reject the effects of a successful Inspire action.

Resisting a Persuade, Bargain or Threaten action that succeeds is somewhat harder. When you fail to resist one of those with Resolve, you enter a Decision Point. In a Decision Point, you must select an Intimacy and explain how it justifies resisting the specific influence against you. The Intimacy must have equal or greater intensity as the Intimacy that supported the influence roll against you, and it cannot be the same Intimacy you used to increase your Resolve, if one existed. If the ST accepts your argument, you may spend 1 Willpower to reject the influence roll entirely. Otherwise, you are swayed. I would be pretty lenient on what works, as long as it’s reasonable, but I would definitely have appreciated more advice here. NPCs will fairly rarely resist influence unless it’s vitally important to them, though.

Once someone has resisted influence, it is much harder to sway them again. However, if you manage to produce the evidence needed to do so, the target can’t boost their Resolve using the same Intimacy they used the first time, though they can use the one that they used in the Decision Point to resist, if there was a Decision Point. The game explicitly says that it is a good idea to set up Intimacies in such a way as to make it so the stuff you really, really don’t want to do is protected by them. This leads us well into unacceptable influence. Anything that counts as unacceptable influence can be straight up rejected, for free, no matter what, even if your Resolve would normally not be high enough to defend against it. You may choose to have your character listen, but only because you want to. Nothing can compel a character to obey unacceptable influence except certain rare and potent Charms or spells.

So what is Unacceptable Influence? It is:
1. Any Instill action that attempts to strengthen or weaken an Intimacy without exploiting an appropriately strong Intimacy in order to do so.
2. Any Persuade action that doesn’t exploit an Intimacy strong enough for the task.
3. Any Bargain action that does not provide a sufficient incentive (as determine by the person controlling the character being targeted) or any Threaten action that is insufficiently threatening (same)
4. Any influence that would make a character kill themselves or do something they know for certain would result in their death.
5. Any influence that would compel a character to abandon or end a Defining Intimacy. You might be able to seduce someone with a Defining Tie to their spouse, but cannot convince them to abandon or kill their spouse without first degrading that Intimacy.
6. Any attempt at seduction which violates a character’s sexual orientation, as defined by the person controlling the character.
7. Some Charms can also add things that count as Unacceptable Influence.

There are also a few situations that can change things up. It is possible to target multiple people with influence actions – either a select group of listeners or anyone that can hear you at all. However, you get -3 whenever targeting multiple people, as it’s harder to tailor your arguments. The exception is Inspire, which by default targets everyone that can perceive and understand you doing it without penalty, and in fact can’t target specific people without magic. Success or failure is determined for each target individually, as their Resolve will vary; when handling large groups of people who aren’t important enough to differentiate, just assume one average Resolve for the group.

It is possible to perform influence through writing – letters, books, pamphlets, whatever. When doing so, the ability you roll is always Linguistics, no matter what you’re doing. Rolls are compared to Resolve as normal, and you can either target a single intended reader or anyone that reads the thing, with the normal rules for multiple target influence. It is also possible to attempt influence via gestures, appearance and body language alone, but the target gets +2 Resolve against that, and it’s normally only possible to do threats or seduction that way without being really creative. (Exception: inspire actions using dance grant no Resolve bonus.) What about sign language you ask? Does not get mentioned.

So can you overturn someone else’s Influence to get someone to abandon a course they’ve been convinced to follow? Yes. However, the target gets +3 Resolve against any influence that would make them abandon what they were persuaded to do, on top of any Intimacy bonus. Second, you must spend a Willpower to make the attempt. If you manage to succeed, the target can choose to enter a Decision Point without spending Willpower, and indeed must spend Willpower and cite an Intimacy to be able to listen to you. And yes, these same rules apply to reversing a reversal, as long as you keep using new arguments. Once a story arc ends, any lingering influence can be overturned normally, without using these special reversal rules. We also get a sidebar on seduction and how to do it with influence actions, and The Red Rule, which is that a PC can only be seduced or put in a sexual situation with their player’s consent; otherwise, any attempt to do so fails automatically. This is entirely up to the player, who can choose whether or not to invoke this for any attempt. Which is…a good rule, yes, though I probably would have put it somewhere besides a sidebar.

If you want to retry a failed social influence action, you are going to have to find a new argument or better offer to make before you can do it. For an Instill action, you will need substantially greater evidence of whatever you’re trying to convince the target of, or you must wait an arc before trying again. For a Persuade action, you will need either a new argument that plays on a different (but sufficiently strong) Intimacy, or you must wait an arc before trying again, or you must strengthen the target’s Intimacy that you were trying to use before trying again, whichever comes first. For a Bargain action, you are going to need a substantially greater offering. For a Threaten action, you will need to significantly escalate your threat. For an Inspire action, you must wait for a new scene before trying again, same for Read Intentions. Also of note: all social influence works just fine during combat, as long as it makes sense in context. You can make any social influence action as a combat action, and they can be flurried. One of the more likely things to show up as a combat social influence check is a surrender, from either side.

Next time: Crimedoing

Seemingly Pointless Repetition

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Seemingly Pointless Repetition

What comes next in the rules is…taking the basic action resolution rules, and listing out a bunch of ways that Larceny can be used to do crimes and Investigation can be used to figure out those crimes. I’m not totally sure why they’re all listed out like this, because it is emphatically not a new subsystem or anything like that. It’s just the normal action resolution system, just with specific listed examples of what you roll to pick pockets or locks, make disguises, or case crime scenes or profile suspects. But they exist and, well, that’s two pages that are basically example text on what you can do with Larceny and Investigation, I guess?

And then we’re into the Leadership subsystem, which is as close as the game is going to get to a Bureaucracy subsystem, and quite frankly it is lacking. It is in fact a non-system. Basically, a character is a leader of a group can undertake a Project. Projects are efforts to get something or develop something, either for yourself or the group you lead, or otherwise gain advantage. First step: is the project possible? If not, why not? The GM must inform the player of what they would need to make the project possible and how long it will take once it is possible. The player must then set about achieving the conditions to make the project possible. Once the project is possible, no rolls are done. The project succeeds, by default, unless interrupted by plot events. That’s it. However, sometimes a project will have failure conditions. These are complications that, if not dealt with, make the project fail. They are entirely at the whim of the ST, but in general should only exist to make things interesting. Otherwise, the project succeeds. Also, the more the PC has to gain from success, the more likely a failure condition happens.

Once a failure condition exists, it must be dealt with. PCs and NPC advisors can offer their plans for how, but ultimately the leader decides. So the leader must figure out why the problem is happening and deal with it. Which presumably is handled by…engaging the actual parts of the game that have rules, or just throwing Merits at the problem. The book actually suggests the latter – you point to the Merit that solves the issue and it goes away. Real interesting. Going and dealing with it personally only gets an offhand mention as an “attractive option” for Exalts, when in reality it’s going to be option 1 because it means your players get to do a thing. Anyway. If the ST rules that the response is inadequate or the PCs do nothing, the project fails. All assets are lost, etc. If they resolve the failure condition, the project succeeds. Possibly with consequences or complications. The game is literally taking five pages to spell out that, yes, PC plans are going to affect the world around them in ways that make stories happen. This is not a rules subsystem. These rules do not exist. There are no rules here.

Next up: Feats of Strength. These are all Strength+Athletics actions to lift heavy shit, break things with your bare hands or otherwise be impressively swole. You cannot attempt a feat of strength at all unless you have Strength 3+, and some feats have higher Strength minimums. You get automatic successes to breaking shit if you have a logically useful tool to do so, like a sledgehammer to smash a statue, and more if it’s an artifact weapon. The book notes to ignore these rules in combat in favor of what allows for cool stunts, so this is purely non-combat breaking shit. Also, if your pool is at least 3 times what’s needed to do the feat at all, you automatically succeed. Also, breaking stuff with your bare hands can use Martial Arts instead for martial arts tournaments. Things you need Strength 3+ for: lifting a person or anvil, breaking a board, carrying a bale of cotton on one shoulder, kicking a door open, lifting a mule, breaking a sword on your knee, lifting a warhorse, bending an iron bar with your hands. Strength 5+: Lifting an ox, pulling a loaded wagon, bending a horseshoe into a pretzel, lifting a boulder, throwing a warhorse, lifting a rhino, snapping iron manacles, smashing through a brick wall slowly, throwing an ox, twisting a steel lock off a door with your hands, kicking down an ironclad door. Strength 7+: Lifting an elephant, raising a drawbridge by hand, smashing through a brick wall, raising a locked portcullis by hand, punching through a wooden fortress gate, pulling a loaded wagon out of a sand trap, ripping iron bars out of stone one-handed, ripping out the supports of a city gate, lifting a boulder one-handed, tearing down temple pillars a la Samson, lifting a tyrant lizard, carrying a giant statue on one shoulder, pushing over a Guild wagon, pushing open a locked and reinforced fortress gate. Strength 10+: Uprooting a giant tree, slowly smashing through a stone fort wall, lifting a mammoth, throwing an elephant, tearing a steel portcullis apart, lifting a tree onehanded, cracking a boulder in half, ripping a portcullis out entirely, throwing a mammoth, pushing over a stone tower, pulling a boat away from a waterfall, tearing open a crevasse, smashing through solid stone, lifting a yeddim, outpulling a team of yeddim or towing a boat away from a waterfall while swimming. How do you get Strength over 5? Charms, mostly.

We also get rules for environmental hazards and wilderness survival. Hazards basically deal a set pool of damage, rolled once per set interval, and have a dicepool that lets you avoid taking damage. Hazards ignore soak and hardness and deal damage straight to your health, so they can be quite nasty. Especially if they deal damage per round, like acid, being on fire or being in the presence of the Silent Wind in Malfeas. (Don’t do that last one.) Traps work similarly, but usually only hit once. Falling damage is dealt based on how many range bands you fall, dealing automatic damage plus a rolled amount of damage dice. This can make falling stupidly lethal, but the game suggests the ST should always allow a cool stunt to give you a chance to mitigate or avoid falling damage. This section also includes the deprivation rules. You can go (Stamina) minutes without air, (Stamina) days without water and (Stamina) weeks without food. However, you get a penalty to all actions after (Stamina) days without food, or in your final hours without water. If you’re in combat or similarly exerting yourself, or if you’re being forcibly drowned, you can only go (Stamina*2) turns without air.

Poison rules work similar to environmental hazards. Poison deals a set amount of damage dice (ignoring soak and hardness) per interval, with intervals usually short, and apply a penalty to all actions while poisoned. They last for a set duration, but a Resistance roll reduces this. They also have a vector that determines how they get in – contact, ingested, or a poisoned weapon, say. (A weapon must hit with a Decisive Attack to poison someone, but need not do damage.) Some poisons deal Initiative damage, only doing actual damage when their victim is Crashed. Other, more esoteric ones, may damage your Willpower or Essence. Exalts and other magical beings can reduce a poison’s duration to zero, but mortals can at best halve it.

Diseases! Diseases work differently. They have a Virulence (the difficulty of a Resistance roll to avoid catching them when exposed), a Morbidity (the difficulty of a Resistance roll to keep them from worsening) and Interval (how often you roll). When first infected, you suffer a Minor Symptom. This has no mechanical penalties – you just have to show your discomfort from the disease once per session, or else the ST is instructed to take 1 Willpower from you. It can then get worse, becoming a Major Symptom. Once per session, when you have that, the ST can declare you automatically botch due to the disease’s symptoms flaring up, or may just take a Willpower if there’s not an interesting point in a session to do that. If it gets worse from there, it becomes a Defining Symptom, which renders the automatic botch (or WP drain) once per scene instead, though the ST is instructed that grinding someone down to 0 WP is not fun, and so shouldn’t do a WP drain more than once or twice per session. If it gets worse from there, mortals die. Exalts and other supernatural beings are immune to dying of disease. Some diseases may not be able to reach certain levels of Symptom. How do you determine if you get worse? When you make the Morbidity check, if you fail it, the symptom progresses to the next stage. If you succeed, it reduces one stage (or goes away, if it was Minor).

The game lists a bunch of possible diseases, but all mundane diseases follow the same rules and do the same thing – all that varies is their Virulence, Morbidity and Interval, and whether they can kill. Of the ones listed, the only one that can’t kill is syphilis. Because of course they decided to provide rules for syphilis. Each disease gets a full paragraph describing it, but again, they have no actual mechanical distinction besides those few stats, and the fact that Exalts and other supernaturals are immune to infected wounds, but mortals aren’t, and that’s the most common disease.

Supernatural diseases also exist. These diseases have special effects at each Symptom level, on top of the normal ones, but otherwise are identical. There is only one supernatural disease listed: Puppeteer’s Plague. It is a disease caused by the meat of cattle fed human flesh, and Mask of Winters has used it as a biological weapon. It curses its victims by animating their skeletons as undead monsters…while they’re alive. When Minor Symptoms are active, it causes unstoppable itching along the spine and limbs, and requires a Resistance roll each night to be able to regain Willpower from sleep due to terrible nightmares of committing atrocities. At Major, the skeleton begins to act on its own. The nightmares continue as before, and when the ST would inflict a botch due to disease, they may instead cause the infected character to perform a physical action that is cruel or malevolent, such as hitting someone, stealing something or crushing a small animal. The victim may resist by spending a Willpower, but must enter a Decision Point to do so and draw on a Major or stronger Intimacy. At Defining, the skeleton is now actively a monster, and it functions as per the Major Symptom but only Defining Intimacies can be used in the Decision Point to resist the evil impulses, which again can occur whenever the ST would assign a disease-caused botch. Upon death from the disease, the victim’s skeleton tears itself out of their body, rising as a bonesider. Yes, really. That’s the name.

Next time: Nerds.

The Power of Cookie Clicker

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: The Power of Cookie Clicker

So, how do you actual do medicine to help people? For wounds, without magic, there’s not a lot doctors can do. You can make a Medicine roll to stop bleeding, but that’s about it. Mundane medicine just can’t make healing go better. Disease, however, can be a thing. It’s not fast – you need one hour per day of the disease’s Interval, and may require access to various treatments, which would increase Difficulty if you didn’t have them. At the end of each treatment, you roll Medicine, and the sick person can use your roll in place of their resistance roll if they roll worse than you did. Doctors can also treat poison with remedies and antivenoms, which takes access to those and around an hour. Once that’s done, they roll Medicine with a difficulty based on the poison’s severity, and each threshold success reduces the poison’s duration by one interval. Only the best poison treatment does anything, though, if you get multiple. You can do this as a combat speed action, but at +2 difficulty. However, all of this assumes the doctor knows the cause of the problem. Sometimes it’s obvious, but when it isn’t, treating without diagnosing first increases Difficulty. Diagnosis is a Medicine roll, either Perception or Intelligence, and takes a few minutes. Rushed into combat time, it can be done at increased difficulty.

Lore does…a thing. One thing. One thing. It allows you to Introduce Facts. If a character has Lore 3+ and a relevant specialty or backstory, once per scene they can attempt to do so. The player says what fact they want to introduce, and if the ST doesn’t veto it, they then roll Lore at a Difficulty set by the ST. If they succeed, the fact is true and their character knows or discovers it. Once a fact is introduced, it cannot be contradicted. It is true. Period. This is different than rolling to know a thing – in those cases, the ST tells you the answer. For Introducing Facts, the player says the answer and then rolls to make it true.

Further, any character with Lore 3+ or Lore 1+ and a relevant specialty may declare that they think something the ST introduces is suspect and reflexively roll Lore to see if they can tell. Success means they notice the thing is false, but not why. If they roll with enough successes to have Introduced a Fact, they not only know the thing is false, but also why it is false. However, in all cases, the ST decides what the PC is able to learn this way, and may tell you that, in fact, the thing you are doubting isn’t actually false. I don’t actually like the Introduce Facts roll because it is explicitly siloed behind Lore, so your master martial artist can’t Introduce Facts about martial arts without having Lore 3 and a relevant specialty. I really think it should just be a general thing you can do, with Lore being able to do it for any field.

And now we find the elephant in the room: Crafting. Crafting is a very complex minigame. Every type of crafting is a project, and there are four types:
Basic Projects: Making simple mundane goods. These are cheap and easy to make. Cook a meal, shoe a horse, forge a hammer.
Major Projects: Significant efforts of your trade. Make a quality sword, cook a banquet, sculpt a statue.
Superior Projects: Either a large-scale construction such as a warship or palace, or making a mystical artifact such as a daiklaive or magic suit of armor.
Legendary Projects: Mighty magical artifacts on the scale of the First Age, difficult even for Twilights.

To perform crafting projects, you need to keep track of your Project Slots and your Crafting Experience. Which is called Experience despite functioning in no way like Experience Points do in any other part of the system. You can only maintain a certain number of projects at any given time, as determined by how many project slots you have, but finishing projects generates Crafting Experience which is used to fuel other projects. There are several kinds of Crafting Experience:
Silver Experience Points, or sxp, which are earned by finishing Basic Projects and are used to fuel Major Projects.
Gold Experience Points, or gxp, which are earned by finishing Major Projects and are used to fuel Superior Projects.
White Experience Points, or wxp, which are earned by finishing Superior Projects and are used to fuel Legendary Projects. My understanding is that the only reason these are all xp is that White Points would be WP, which is always used for Willpower.

When you finish a crafting project, you check to see if you have triggered any of three Basic Objectives. For each one you met, you gain Crafting Experience, with amounts determined by the type of project. The Objectives are:
1. Finishing the project causes another character to gain or strengthen an Intimacy towards you.
2. Finishing the project produces a clear gain for you, such as payment or the earning of a new ally.
3. Finishing the project upholds, furthers or protects one of your Intimacies.
Further, at the end of any arc, you gain 3 SXP for every Craft you have at 3+ which was used to complete a project during the arc, 5 SXP for each Craft you have at 5+ which was used to complete a project during the arc, and 5 GXP per Artifact created successfully during the arc.

You also have 3 types of project slots:
Major Slots, which can hold a Major Project.
Superior Slots, which can hold a Superior Project.
Legendary Slots, which can hold a Legendary Project.
A project occupies its slot until it is either completed or failed. Normally, you have only 3 Major Slots. You may, however, spend Crafting Experience to temporarily obtain other or greater slots.

Basic Projects do not require any slots. They just take an appropriate amount of time and then you make a Craft roll. They are free to perform at any time. Successful completion gives 2 SXP per objective triggered, or 3 SXP per objective if your roll was at least 3 successes more than you needed. A Basic Project usually takes only a few minutes, or a few hours tops. You just need an appropriate Craft skill and materials.
Major Projects require you to have the materials and Craft skill as before, but because the resources involved will be more significant, they also require a Major Slot. If all of your Major Slots are full, you may spend 5 SXP to gain a new Major Slot, which vanishes once the project in it ends. Typically, a Major Project takes between several hours and several days to complete, or even several weeks. To finish one, you must spend 10 SXP and then make a Craft roll. If you fail, it will cost another 10 SXP to try again after a small amount of time to bring things back on track. Successful completion gives 2GXP and 1SXP per objective, or 3GXP and 1SXP per objective if your roll was at least 3 successes more than you needed.
Superior Projects only actually have rules for Artifact creation, despite the note that they might also represent largescale projects like architecture. The only note on those is that they should be treated as 2 or 3 dot Artifacts at ST discretion. To make an Artifact, you must have Lore 3+, Occult 3+, a relevant Craft at 4+ and also Craft (Artifacts) at 1+. You must also have quality tools and plenty of magical materials and, usually, exotic ingredients. Also, you need a Superior Slot. No one has those by default, but you can purchase one by fusing together Major Slots equal to the rating of the Artifact you want to make and spending an equal amount of GXP. (So if you want an Artifact 5, you have to buy two temporary Major Slots, then fuse them all together into one Superior Slot, for a total of 10 SXP and 5 GXP.) Once the project is over, all slots revert back to normal. Depending on the number of Artifact dots, there are minimum time requirements. It takes at least 6 weeks to make an Artifact 2, 3 months for Artifact 3, a year for Artifact 4, and 2 years for Artifact 5, all assuming you are working several hours every day on the project. Once you are ready to finish, you must spend 10 GXP and roll the lower of your highest relevant Craft or Craft (Artifacts) as an extended roll. You have six Difficulty 5 rolls in which to gather the requisite amount of successes – ranging from 30 for an Artifact 2 to 100 for Artifact 5. You roll once per 10 GXP spent, with no set interval. If any roll botches, the project is ruined. Failure to complete the artifact within 6 rolls also means the project is ruined. Either way, gotta start over from scratch. If the intended artifact is one-of-a-kind, as almost all of them are (including all artifact weapons), you can never attempt that specific Artifact again, though you could try to make a different sword. Successful completion, as long as you accomplish at least one Basic Objective, gives WXP based on the Artifact’s value, ranging from 3 for Artifact 2 to 9 for Artifact 5. Further, for every roll you didn’t need to make, you gain double the Artifact’s rating in GXP – so if you finished an Artifact 3 in 3 rolls instead of all 6, you get 5 WXP (for Artifact 3) and 18 GXP (for 3 unused rolls). No bonus for multiple objectives.
Legendary Projects are those that create N/A-scale Artifacts. On top of all the normal requirements of a Superior Project, you must have Lore 5, Occult 5, Craft (Artifacts) 5, a relevant Craft at 5, and a shitload of magical materials and mystic scholar assistants. To begin, you must spend 5 WXP to create a Legendary Slot, but it doesn’t have to fuse any lesser slots. It just goes away when you finish, success or failure. It works exactly per a Superior Project, except that it takes 10 years of labor, each roll costs 10 WXP to make, and you need 200 total successes. Successful completion, as long as you accomplish at least one Basic Objective, gives 10 WXP, and you roll a free, costless Craft Excellency at your full possible value; for each success, you gain 1 GXP, and for each die that doesn’t succeed, you get 1 SXP. No bonus for multiple objectives.

You will note the sheer numbers involved; without the use of Charms, Superior and Legendary Projects are essentially impossible. This is very much deliberate, and DBs are not meant to be able to achieve Legendary Projects even with Charms. (Lunars will also have a lot of trouble with it.)

Next time: More cookie clicker, and also boats.

Cookie Clicker On Boats

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Cookie Clicker On Boats

Suppose you wanted to repair something instead of make a new thing. This works essentially the same way – repairing something simple is a Basic Project, a broken sword is a Major, and a broken Artifact is Superior or Legendary. However, the ST may choose to set the goal number lower than for making the thing outright, depending on how badly damaged it is, and likewise may reduce the minimum time requirements, likewise based on severity of damage. Further, unlike Superior or Legendary Projects to make an Artifact, there’s no Terminus – you can keep trying to fix the thing until you manage it, however long it ends up taking. Repairing larger structures, such as a ship or manse, however, will require a series of Major Projects, as you work to repair each room or element of the structure, one by one. These repairs typically take hours or days. You can also restore Hull to damaged ships at a cost of one Major Project per restored Hull point.

Repair projects also provide lesser rewards. A Basic repair gives 1 SXP per objective triggered, a Major repair gives 1 GXP per objective triggered, a Superior repair gives (Artifact’s rating – 1) WXP, and there is no Crafting Experience reward for a Legendary repair – the fixed Artifact N/A is the reward there. Some projects are designed First Age Artiface; these are wonders that relied on the massive magical infrastructure of the First Age to create or operate, magic that is long since lost. The ability to create or repair anything deemed First Age Artiface (which Future Mors notes that the new devs gave an actual definition to, that being ‘anything which, if it were widely available, would warp the setting from what we’d like it to be by default’) follows similar rules, but with additional requirements. First, they require the Craft (First Age Artifice) ability, which you cannot learn unless you have Lore 5, Occult 5, Craft (Artifacts) 5 and can perform at least Terrestrial Circle Sorcery. Second, regardless of dot rating, all costs are in WXP. Third, any attempt to finish the project or make a repair roll will require a Sorcerous Project to design key components. That won’t get explained or defined for another 200 pages. Artifact 2-3 require Terrestrial Circle workings, Artifact 4-5 require at least one Celestial Circle working (and the rest Terrestrial), and Artifact N/A would require at least one Solar Circle working and multiple Celestial Circle workings.

We also get a sidebar now on how large-scale construction projects and manses work ruleswise, rather than back in…the actual spot where we were told they were done. Non-magical large-scale constructions require no special Craft or Lore ratings, just the relevant one, and will typically be treated otherwise as an Artifact 2 for purposes of points. They also have no Terminus – you can keep rolling to make them as much as you want, and the ST assigns how long you have to work before you can start making finishing rolls. Manses follow the same rules as Artifact creation, except that they use Craft (Geomancy) in place of Craft (Artifacts), and the only relevant mundane Craft is Craft (Architecture). A 3-dot manse requires a year of work and has goal number 50, while a 5-dot manse requires 2 years and goal number 100. In theory, a Solar might attempt to raise an N/A-rated Manse atop an N/A-rated Demesne, which would follow the Legendary Project rules except using Craft (Geomancy) in place of Craft (Artifacts).

Last up for the rules chapter: Sail. Normal sailing is just like any other rolls – roll a Sail pool against an ST-set difficulty to do a thing. However, this changes when combat happens. Ships operate on a different combat engine than anything else. They have a set of traits – Speed, which is added to any rolls to get places, and can vary with conditions. Speed 0 is a ship in a dead calm and no oars, and it goes up for each variable that will help it. Maneuverability does absolutely nothing outside combat, but is added to all combat Sail rolls. Hull is a ship’s HP bar. When it runs out, the ship is dead in the water. Also, if the ship’s crew has an average Sail score of 4+, you get +2 to all Sail rolls.

That last sentence? The only role crew plays. The big issues with Sail are twofold. First, it’s a single-player game. The only person on a ship that matters is the guy in charge. Second, though it won’t come up immediately, is that Artifact ships exist below the N/A level and are so much better than normal ships that it is literally impossible for a normal ship to beat them.

Oh, right, and the fact that pretty much all Sail rolls are the same roll – Wits+Sail. Those are the only two stats that matter for sailing. The entire game of Sail in combat is that you roll this pool to build a pool of Momentum, then roll this pool and spend Momentum to do actual stuff that does things, like attacking or ramming or hiding or making boarding actions. No matter what you’re doing, it’s always Wits+Sail+Maneuverabiltiy, and it either does nothing but gain Momentum or spends Momentum in order to get out of a fight, do (minimal) damage or initiate a boarding action, which just goes to regular combat with possibly a few small modifiers, like ‘the enemy starts prone’ or ‘the enemy gets a one-turn Defense penalty.’

The best mundane ships listed in the book have a total of 4 points of Hull, all of which of course inflict wound penalties on the ship when filled, and have at best Maneuverability +2. Suffice to say that Artifact ships are significantly better than that.

Next time: Mors dives into CHARM HELL, but spares you the worst of it.

I Am Sisyphus, And I Am In Hell

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: I Am Sisyphus, And I Am In Hell

Okay, so. Charms. These are your magic powers. I’ll explain how they work, but I will not be going Charm by Charm because I would claw my own eyes out. We are instructed that a Charm is basically just a game abstraction for a Solar’s incredible skill, harnessing Essence to tap into their mastery of action. They aren’t ‘real’ except in the way a martial artist might describe their techniques, in the context of the game itself. (With the actual exception of Martial Arts Charms, each of which is in fact a specific technique that must be learned and mastered.) Okay, sure. That’s fine. Charms come in trees – you need to pick up various prerequisites to get higher Charms, plus have appropriately high Ability scores (for Solars and DBs, anyway) and Essence rating.

Rules-wise, all players must declare any Charms they are using (and the ST must as well, for any NPCs), though in combat they can use as many as they want within the bounds of general Charm use restrictions. Combos no longer exist and you are no longer limited to one Charm per round or whatever. Charms are declared before dice are rolled, and costs are paid before any rolls, too. Attackers declare their charms first, then defenders. Many charms may boost dicepools or static values. Solars cannot add more dice to a roll than their total Attribute+Ability pool for that roll, with the exception of things that specifically say they count as non-Charm dice. For static values, every +1 to the value counts as 2 added dice. If a Charm adds successes rather than dice, each success counts as two added dice unless specified as non-Charm. Specialties are not counted for calculating a Solar’s Charm dice-adding limits. Sorcery, Martial Arts Charms and other ‘universal’ magic or magic used by others to give out dice still count against these limits unless they explicitly say otherwise. We also get an order-of-operations note that says rerolls or things that remove numbers from a roll’s result happen before any other Charms that care about the numbers you rolled.

Charms come in a few types. Simple Charms are activated as a combat action, with all normal timing for that. They can’t be put in a flurry, so they take up your entire action, and as a result you are limited to one per round. Typically, these actions count as using whatever Ability the Charm is from. Supplemental Charms enhance an action of some kind, almost always using the skill the Charm is for. You can use as many Supplemental Charms as you want during a round, as long as you have valid actions for them to enhance, but a specific Charm can only be activated to enhance an action once – you can’t use the same Charm five times on the same action. Reflexive Charms either cause a reflexive action or enhance some unrolled thing. Some might anticipate surprise attacks – and these can be activated even if the Solar isn’t aware of the attack until the Charm activates. You can use any Reflexive Charm at any time, but again, you can’t use them multiple times on the same thing. Generally speaking, they can only create or enhance actions of their associated Ability – so a Melee-based defensive Reflexive Charm can usually only enhance your Melee-based Parry. Permanent Charms provide a permanent, always-active enhancement, and never need to be activated.

I’m not going to explain Keywords because…well, first of all, several Keywords don’t do anything. They’re just classification terms. Others do stuff, though – Mute means the Charm won’t add to your anima, for example, while Stackable means the Charm can be active multiple times simultaneously. Most Charms have only an instant effect, spending their motes and ending. Their effects might last, in the sense that the action they boost happens and remains happened, but the magic doesn’t. Others last longer. Any Charm that has a greater-than-instant duration ties up (“commits”) any Essence spent on it, unable to be regenerated by any means until the Charm ends.

There is a sidebar on Charm design for Solars. It is not especially useful, given it takes half a page to try and define Solar themes and still can’t do it besides going ‘Solar themes are doing everything humans can do, better than anyone else.’ They do mention that Solars can’t use Charms to shapeshift, permanently alter their bodies to effortlessly perform various feats (because ‘effort’ is apparently part of their theme), cannot teleport and, of course, cannot do the two things that no Exalted magic can do: time travel or true resurrection of the dead. Also of note, introduced for this edition: Reset conditions. Some Charms can only be used once, and then must be reset somehow before they can be used again.

One good change, also: Excellencies. These are generic dice-adders, and used to be a thing you had to purchase specifically. Now, a Solar automatically gets the Excellency for any Caste or Favored Ability they have any dots in, plus any Ability they have at least one Charm from. This is good! These Charms were extremely useful but also boring. No one got excited over having to buy them, but you absolutely needed them for anything you wanted to be good at. So now you just get them free as a Solar. Good. One good thing for Solars.

Charm Layout is alphabetical by ability. Archery is first. It has several trees, but because the game removed the graphical representations of the charm trees to make room for more charms, I’d have to work out those flowcharts for myself. I am already in Hell. I refuse to dance for you. Instead I will note one “highlight,” Phantom Arrow Technique. Pay one mote reflexively to fire an arrow when you have no arrows! One mote is absolutely not worth an arrow. Once per scene you do get to use it to gain non-Charm bonus dice equal to an Intimacy’s strength for a shot, but after that you can’t use that attack again until you spend “significant effort in restoring or remembering the Intimacy” for positive or “has been reminded of the motivation for her ire” for a negative Intimacy. So once per scene you get a really good attack, except it's also once per you deal with this nebulous refresh condition? Also, at Essence 3+, you can, once per scene, render one of your arrows indestructible and unremovable. Whatever it hits, it is stuck in until you die. You can cut around it and remove the bit it’s stuck in, or destroy what it’s stuck in, but the arrow is stuck and indestructible. Only you or someone you give permission to can remove it. I’m…not sure what the point of this is.

Other Archery charms include being able to insta-aim and get free successes on Decisive attacks, pulling a glowy bow out of your ass which can grow giant wings to provide you cover, and being able to just keep making attacks until you miss or crash your target. Oh, and a sidebar tells us that, contradicting what the actual combat chapter said, you don’t need to aim at long range when casting a spell. Essence 3 also has a ton of ‘you shoot a really glowy arrow that has a bunch of dice tricks on it and if you kill someone with it you get to burn up their soul for benefits.’ There are a total of 26 Archery Charms over 6 pages. This does not include repurchases. Of them, the smallest is the final one and only Essence 5 one, which just boosts your attack damage by your Essence for 1m per shot.

Athletics features…immediately on starting it, a Charm that doesn’t work per the rules, Monkey Leap Technique. See, it’s a 2m charm that lets you jump up or forward one range band automatically, no roll, as your movement for the turn. Except it’s Supplemental, and those aren’t allowed to create actions. Move, as an unrolled action, is enhanced by Reflexive charms. The Charm rules are very specific about that. But whatever, no one cares. This is not the most irritating Essence 1 Charm, that honor goes to Lightning Speed, which enhances a rush or test of speed…by adding an automatic success, fine, and then rerolling 5s and 6s on your dice, until none of your dice have 5s or 6s. This is the kind of fiddly, slow, dumb dice trick that a lot of Solar Charms do, and I hate it. It’s not that it’s mechanically bad – it’s not, it’s actually probably quite good – so much as it’s slow, overly fiddly, and not…fun. Also fun is the Charm that increases your Strength for a scene being followed by a much less efficient Charm to increase your Strength for a single roll at the cost of your successes on the roll, with a sidebar noting that the only reason it exists is if the first Charm is too slow – by which it means if you absolutely need strength this action, rather than maybe two or three actions from now and the rest of the scene. It is literally bringing up and creating a problem that, if it weren’t mentioned, would almost certainly never come up because most STs would never think of it.

God, that’s all just in Essence 1. Athletics also has a ton of stuff that boosts any close combat attacks, because…it does, I guess, and Brawl and Melee were already too big? Essence 3 is a lot of ‘and also you get a ton more mote-efficiency but little actually interesting’ which is also kind of a constant with Solar Charms. A lot of their permanent upgrades are really boring ‘you are just better at numbers forever, no reason’ stuff or stuff that just makes prior charms obsolete. (Indeed, at Essence 5, you get a 1m1wp-cost Charm that makes the aforementioned instant-speed single-action strength booster entirely obsolete by letting you just…count as strong enough and also get double 7s on any single feat of strength). There are a total of 30 Athletics Charms over 5.5 pages. They tend to be smaller than Archery, see, by virtue of having a lot of permanent upgrades.

Next time: Awareness, Brawl, Brawl Again, Bureaucracy


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: BEHOLD MY FART LIBRARY

Awareness starts out with sensory boosters and I am going to note that Surprise Anticipation Method is still a Charm literally everyone needs to get because it pays the costs of other Awareness charms just by making Awareness rolls and more importantly it lets your senses work while unconscious, which read strictly says that you can’t actually hear things while asleep. “Second: her senses function even when she is asleep or Incapacitated, allowing her to use any of her Awareness Charms subconsciously. A threat revealed to the Solar while she is asleep or unconscious automatically revives her, allowing her to defend herself.” So that’s fun. However, this is not the most insane early Awareness thing. Instead I am going to share with you the entire text of Keen Taste and Smell Technique.


The Exalt’s senses of taste and smell are capable of flawless identification of flavors, textures, and scent profiles. This Charm represents an array of mechanical benefits, as well as two distinct functions of the senses taste and smell. The Solar can recognize an individual by scent alone, and she can tell older scents from new ones, enabling her to tell how recently an individual was present. Add +2 successes to Survival rolls to hunt for food, track
a character, or find water, using her sense of smell. This Charm automatically extends the range of these actions to (Essence * 200) yards.
This Charm also creates a library of scents which your character can reference. Upon learning this Charm, the library is populated with the scents of any Major or Defining Intimacy the character may have, but it can also include scents outside the confines of intimacies if the Storyteller deems them reasonable, including any scent the character has encountered in the last 24 hours, the smell of a favorite food or drink, or scents linked to strong memories such as love or pain. Entries in a Solar’s scent library can be used to aid in Investigation and Survival rolls, as well as in the smell-based Awareness Charms further up the tree.
This Charm also creates a taste index. Similar to the scent library, the taste index allows the Exalt to immediately recognize any taste she has experienced within the realm of reason. The Solar can identify obscure, complex, or similar flavors and she can deconstruct a meal she has eaten to its basic ingredients, so long as she has experienced most of the flavors at some point in time. The taste index isn’t populated the same way as the scent library;
most characters do not have Major or Defning intimacies for flavors. Rather, the Solar may perfectly recognize any flavor the Storyteller considers reasonable. If the character has been a master chef all of her life, her palate is going to be considerably more robust than that of an islander with little contact with the outside world. Conversely, those who have lived or traveled in remote locations may have had access to rare and exotic food, drink, and poison.

SCENT LIBRARIES serve as a major part of Awareness! You can get special Charms to upgrade your SCENT LIBRARY and so on. Also you can get stupid dice tricks like having your target’s 1s count as 10s for you and their 2s count as 9s for you, which isn’t at all dumb bookkeeping. Also you can eventually learn to add “scentless, tasteless subjects” to your SCENT LIBRARY and TASTE INDEX. Also the ultimate power of Awareness lets you turn off Lunar shapeshifting. Because you’re so good at seeing through disguises that they cease existing. Which, y’know, Future Mors notes that shapeshifting is how half of Lunar Charms work. Also you can combine charms to do this out to Extreme Range. There are 22 Awareness Charms over 7 pages. They’re long and wordy as fuck.

Brawl. Brawl is a ton of numbers tricks. Do you want to get a combat bonus? You can, because Brawl can do all of them. It doesn’t even limit itself to Brawl – you can use Thunderclap Rush Attack to cheat a rush out even before it’s your turn and then make any kind of attack you want. Brawl can do anything!! It can even break the rule that rerolls happen before stuff that cares what someone else rolled, like Reckless Fury Discard does, letting you make the opponent’s 1s into boosts to your Parry or Evasion even if they reroll them. Brawl can even turn off people’s Charms! Essence 3 gives us Cancel the Apocalypse which lets you turn off a Charm of someone you send into Crash. Remember: Solar themes are doing stuff humans can do, but better.

Brawl is so long, you guys. You don’t even know. There are so many fucking Brawl Charms. They do stuff like, oh, Fire-Eating Fist tries to define “energy attacks” as a thing Solars can punch and absorb. No other effect in the game cares about energy attacks, so what is an energy attack? Whatever the GM says counts as one, though there is at least an example: a burning elemental bolt. At Essence 4 you do get the power to absorb projectiles that aren’t elemental bolts or energy attacks, too. Later you can unleash the charged up energy as a Kamehameha, but normally it just makes your punching nastier. And its ultimate power? Merging with your anima banner to become a dark-skinned glowing super Saiyan who can teleport into anyone whose attack you punch, cannot be Crashed from a distance can jump all over the place. And in case you were wondering: it is Essence 3 when you can learn to wrestle anything of any size, even mountains. There are 48 Brawl Charms over 10.5 pages.

Bureaucracy Charms let you do stuff like automatically know the quality of goods or how much money they’ll fetch at a specific market, or can tell if someone intends to betray or cheat you in a deal. Or then you could take Enigmatic Bureau Understanding, if you wish to go completely mad. This is a Permanent Charm, so it’s always on, and what it does is tell you when any member of an organization the Solar leads has their Intimacy towards the organization challenged. Period. Ever. The limits? Well, you have to know they have the Intimacy, and they must be currently functioning in some capacity as part of the organization, so if they’re on their day off you only become aware once they go back to work. You don’t know what kind of influence was used either, you just get the voice in your brain going ‘SOMEONE IS TRYING TO CONVINCE PEOPLE NOT TO CARE ABOUT YOUR GROUP.’ Constantly. Forever. Also, you can learn a Charm that makes organizations work faster by massive scales – century to season, season to month, month to week, week to day, days to minutes. Except there are no effects that care about that anywhere else so again, this is just ‘GM, make shit up’ for actual mechanics. You can also make laws that members of your organization are literally incapable of breaking. This isn’t mind control, it lacks the keyword to be mind control. They just can’t do it.

Here's a fun one for book-keeping: Subject-Hailing Ideology. This lets you use former Intimacies during social influence, as long as you know about them, even if they no longer exist. It does at least only work as long as your influence is solely intended to make the target act in some direct, official capacity – get someone to fulfill a specific social role they currently or formerly occupied. But it means that now, the ST has to track what the old Intimacies were even after they have ceased to matter, so that this Charm can tap into them still. There are 26 Bureaucracy Charms over 6 pages.

Craft Charms are cookie clicker automation, mostly. They expand how many slots you have, reduce the cost of new slots, temporarily convert Craft dots from one Craft to another, spend Craft Experience to gain new Crafts at 5, turn Craft Experience from one type to another, get free Craft Experience…so many of them are just permanent upgrades of your basic craft tech, or cheap stuff you’ll activate in downtime for no real cost to automate crafting. Hell, one of them lets you just shit out minor Artifacts for free. At Essence 4 you start getting to do stuff like reduce goal numbers for crafting and increase how many rolls you can make, which is all that makes the higher tier crafting even possible, basically. At Essence 5, you start being able to just pull massive numbers of successes out of your ass. And remember, Supernal exists so a Twilight can get at this stuff quickly. Well, more quickly.

Special mention, however, to Dual Magnus Prana. This Charm is special in so many ways. It’s the first (and to my knowledge only) Charm that officially is two abilities, since it also requires Occult and Sorcery – but you had those anyway, you’re a Solar Crafter. Second, it’s named for The Magnus, who is Morke’s personal OC super genius Solar who was his mouthpiece in the latter days of 2e to reveal Grand Setting Facts and explain how everything really worked and was super awesome and special and you could never be like him. And last, this Charm isn’t a Craft Charm; it’s not even a Solar Charm, thematically. Why? Because here's what it does: When you would die, you can spend 30 WXP to reveal that you were a ROBOT CLONE all along, and the real you is somewhere else, anywhere else you want as long as the ST okays it. You just retroactively shat out a perfect sorcerous clone of yourself that shared all of your knowledge, memories and abilities. Solar Charms! But wait, that was just the efficiency tree!

Did I mention that unlike any other Ability, Craft Charms are divided into trees based on what they do? They are! There’s also the Momentum Tree, which lets you earn more points from doing stuff, including a Charm that just drops White XP on you every arc. Then there’s the repair tree, which also lets you blow up random inanimate objects with a touch and improves your point rewards from repairs, lets you force extra Evocations into your Artifacts and entirely rewrite an Artifact’s Evocations. And the Power tree, which is what you use to actually make your dice tricks happen and roll insane numbers of bonus non-Charm dice. It also lets you do stupid shit like look for three-of-a-kind matched rolls to turn other dice into 10s. Because stupid, fiddly dice tricks. And again, so much of this is either permanent, low-cost or has only cost in Crafting Experience, which you’re fucking drowning in from your cookie clicking shenanigans. There are 53 Craft Charms over 10.5 pages.

I hate this charm.

Next time: Dodge, Integrity, Investigation, Larceny

Retroactive Not Getting Hit

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Retroactive Not Getting Hit

Dodge starts out fairly simple – minor dice tricks or trading Initiative for Evasion, being better at Disengage attempts, that kind of thing. Oh, and another thing that counts 1s and 2s before they get to be rerolled. In fact, I think everything that’s counted 1s and 2s on the enemy’s roll has been before rerolls now, so I’m not sure why that rule actually exists. I’m also not sure how Drifting Leaf Evasion works. For 1m, if activated before someone rolls an attack on you, you dodge their attack if it has successes equal to your Evasion. Which…like, I don’t know why this is a Charm, it is very niche. You have to bet that you’ll only just barely be hit? Like, it only works if you get hit but not hit hard enough to have any threshold successes? Why?

Also, someone claimed perfect defenses don’t exist. This is wrong; they do. Sort of. Seven Shadows Evasion, for example. It costs 4m1wp, and is usable once per scene. When used, you automatically dodge any one attack, even one that deals uncountable damage. You then can’t use it again until either the next scene or you successfully use an earlier Charm to dodge three Decisive Attacks from dangerous foes, whichever comes first. That’s how perfect defenses work in this edition. For Solars, anyway. They’re limited-use, expensive and generally require you to do dangerous stuff to use them multiple times in a scene. A lot of Dodge also likes to give you Initiative for dodging attacks, or steal it from folks that miss you. Dodge is also the only Charm tree to, as far as I can tell, have no Essence 4 Charms – it jumps from 3 to 5. The weirdest part of it, though, is the tree that lets you dodge stuff that’s already hit you. Vaporous Division lets you spend motes to reduce attack damage, and the charms that branch off it let you turn your dodging ability into temporary health boxes, then get benefits for tanking attacks with them, or even use your dodging ability to self-heal. I have no idea what these Charms are doing in Dodge, rather than Resistance. But I guess Solar Dodge can do this. There are 26 Dodge Charms over 5.5 pages.

Integrity gets a bunch of shit it can do, as it gets to do a lot of Resolve-boosting. You can choose to buy some of its Charms by just having a ton of Charms in other abilities rather than do the sane thing and buy, like, a tiny amount of Integrity, if you’re nuts. It also does things like prevent Wyld-induced hallucinations and mutations (which, as far as I can tell, there are no rules for – they just happen if the ST says they do) or other environmentally-caused warping effects. Or then there’s Destiny-Manifesting Method. To take it you need ten Charms from any one other ability, and it prevents any effect that would instantly turn you into something that would render your character concept unviable, altering the transformation so you can still do your core idea. Second, it ensures that no matter how powerful such a curse is, there’s always a way to break it, and you have seasons or even years in which to do so, even if it’s a normally fatal curse. You can rebuy this multiple times by having more multiples of ten Charms, and each time it “amplifies the effects.” I’m not sure how it amplifies them because they seem pretty damn absolute to me, but whatever. There’s an entire sidebar on how this Charm has hugely wide-ranging effects and fuck it, ST, you come up with the mechanics for how it downgrades shit, our examples are a swordswoman turned into a cat instead becomes a catgirl so she can keep using a sword, or a courtesan cursed with ugliness only gets a minor ugly feature she can hide.

Integrity lets you do stuff like pay motes instead of Willpower to resist influence, to meditate in order to gain a bonus on rolls to notice shit, to resist influence better, to do social influence so good it makes people respect you at a Major Intimacy level if they want to in order to get bonus dice, and…I think Soul-Nourishing Technique is meant to be a Charm that lets you help people resist starvation by hollering at them about your Defining Intimacies, but it honestly could just be fluff text?


The Solar’s words are bread and water to those who listen. The Solar gives a sermon, recites a parable, or tells a story that explains one of her Defning Principles and why it means so much to her, how it influences her views and what it reveals about Creation. This sermon must last at least an hour. The Solar’s words feed the audience like a nutritious meal and hydrate them like water from a fresh spring. Listening to this sermon grants listeners automatic knowledge of the Principle being discussed without needing to make a read intentions action.

At upper levels it can do shit like…steal the Charms of spirits that acknowledge you as the local ruler or priest, or who you beat up? I’m not really sure why. It just can. STs are told to either pick from published spirits or make up Charms on the spot, because that’s a sane and easy thing to do, sure. And you can just collect spirit powers this way and swap between them like Pokemon. Because…of course you can. And unlike the Eclipse anima, it’s not limited to Charms with the Eclipse keyword, which are explicitly the ones the game thinks are balanced for Solars to have. Of course. There are 29 Integrity Charms over 8 pages.

Investigation starts out with a permanent Charm that lets you know whenever you have wandered into a place where a crime was done or met someone who could be criminally profiled, though it doesn’t tell you why beyond ‘he’s suspicious’ or ‘a crime was done here’ or ‘there’s a trap’. You just get CRIME SENSE. You can then get one that lets you know whenever someone rolls Larceny nearby. You just are a crime-detecting zone. It’s only after that that the dice tricks start. Some things are cool, though, like the ability to profile a character that isn’t present based on the evidence they left behind. I’m also honestly okay with psychometric adventure game protagonist vision. The dice tricks are boring, but that’s fine. I don’t think making a memory palace should be Essence 5, though! It’s a thing real people can do! The benefit is it lets you do hours of evidence compiling and research in seconds, but that’s not a mechanically notable thing? Like, the system does not ever actually require hours of research, just a scene of casing and then thought, at most, and Solars can already do the scene of casing near-instantly with earlier charms. The actual effects of the Charm are, quote, “largely dramatic” but it’s meant to let you pull the solution to a riddle or mystery out of your ass, and is limited to once a story. There are 17 Investigation Charms over 4 pages. I get the sense that Investigation didn’t excite them.

Larceny starts off with a Charm that lets you get project an aura of criminality, innocence or vulnerability as you choose, which has no strict system effects but means folks tend to read you as whatever you want to be read as in a criminal context. It also is where you can go for boosting Guile or finding ways to exploit people’s lack of knowledge. It also boosts gambling stuff, except gambling has no system? But I guess it’s just saying ‘well now you can make Larceny rolls to be a super gambler.’ Or other crimes, it can boost theft and stuff. Or disguises. Or memory stealing.

I actually like Master Plan Meditation, the Charm that lets you just make a Larceny roll to get a pool of points with which to fuck up evidence retroactively, because it’s more interesting and fun to be able to say ‘yeah, I planned for that’ rather than have to work out ahead of time what you would have to plan for, which will eat up way too much session time. So that’s cool. I do think it’s odd that they couldn’t pick out one name for a later Charm, though, so the name is Skillful Reappropriation (Phantom Sting Search). Pick a name, ya bums! You can also learn a charm to have magic essence gloves that let you steal Initiative or Essence from people in combat, or even their attuned Artifacts. (An ST that uses that last one against PCs is likely to get them in full revolt.) There are 28 Larceny Charms over 7 pages.

Next time: Linguistics, Lore, the Lore Charm That Takes 2.5 Pages By Itself, Medicine, Melee

How Am Talk Words

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Exalted 3rd Edition: How Am Talk Words

Linguistics starts off direct but not exciting. It has Charms to copy text generally, then perfectly forge it, or take Charms to hide what you are saying or writing behind a second, more innocuous discussion. Then we get the dice tricks, because of course we do. Then there’s Poetic Expression Style, which lets you communicate across language barriers via pantomime, but “does not allow for poesy” and also gives you a “3 success penalty” as, apparently, a logical result of that. Which…is definitely worth it, I’m sure. Then there’s one that lets you invent a new language understood by people who understand different languages you already know, but only you can speak it. There’s also Essence-Laden Missive, which forces the target to announce whatever you wrote out loud, and Voice-Caging Calligraphy, which prevents the target from being able to speak aloud whatever you wrote. Combining them is noted in a sidebar to do “You tell me.”

At upper levels, Linguistics lets you copy magic encoded in written words, rewrite written text such that you can retarget or change any influence in it even if it’s magical, destroy a target’s ability to speak languages and replace it with a new language no one else speaks, mind control people to do the opposite of what they agree to do, read at three pages per second, or bind someone in place until you stop speaking. Perhaps most notable, however, is Cup Boils Over. This lets you make a letter that rolls Linguistics (with rerolled 6s). It only affects reads who have no Intimacies or “unintelligibly abstruse Intimacies” but who are not incapable of feeling emotions. They die if they read it. This Charm exists to explain why having Intimacies is good, and in doing so it is likely to make people annoyed at having to do this, while simultaneously locking off the ability to insult someone so hard they die, because this is it. There are 29 Linguistics Charms over 8 pages.

Lore…oh boy. Lore does a lot of work. It is what you use to block out the Wyld’s effects for a time, preventing it from mutating people or things. It also expands what you can introduce facts about and gives bonuses to doing that. First Knowledge’s Grace lets you “ignore all penalties to teach someone” even if they are “medically incapable of learning,” which is the first time such a state has even been mentioned, or said penalties. It’s not until the Charm’s upgrade that teaching is given any mechanical weight, though, when you can spend XP to raise someone else’s stats. Lore is also used to lend out health, Essence or Willpower, for reasons. You can learn a Charm that lets you use Read Intentions on objects to determine their function, or on geography to get bonus dice to Survival or War. It can hand you free Evocations from your artifacts without having to pay XP for them, too.

What else can Lore do? It can reduce damage! You can activate Force-Draining Whisper when hit by a Decisive Attack to reduce damage at the cost of your Initiative. Via Lore. Because…you know the secrets of reality, I guess? That’s how that works. But you’re here for the three page Charm: Wyld-Shaping Technique. This is the Charm that lets you pull just about anything you want out of the Wyld. You stand at the edge of the Wyld and roll Lore at it for a few minutes as an extended action. Each successful roll completes one phase, and depending on what you want, it may take multiple phases. Each phase means reactivating the Charm to dissolve and reshape the last phase. It can get pretty expensive – 15m1wp and 2xp per activation, and base Difficulty 5 on the roll, plus 1 for each phase after the first. You can fight while Wyld shaping, but not cast spells or other extended actions, and if you fail the roll or get knocked out, you lose any XP invested and the Wyld tries to kill you. You have to use it pretty much on top of the Deep Wyld, and it turns off Chaos-Repelling Pattern, rendering you vulnerable to Wyld mutation as you do it. Further, the longer you Wyld shape, the more Wyld critters will show up and try to kill you, because you’re fucking up their house and making it some kind of real, permanent thing.

So what can Wyld shaping make? Anything. Want more land? It can do that, starting with tens of square miles and expanding faster and faster the more phases you spend. If you spend at least three phases, there will be demesnes, or you can spend successes to generate them before that. After a few phases you can even get pretty specific in what the land looks like, rather than just generic land of the appropriate Direction. You can pull gold and silver out your ass, or magical materials. With additional upgrade Charms you might be able to pull out Artifacts or Manses, pre-built for your convenience. The main thing is, you have to use multiple stages to visualize things in some kind of logical order. So if you want a fleet of ships, first you need to make water for them to exist in, say. You want people, they need a place to stand. And yes, you can just generate fully living people whole cloth here. Oh, and Lore also has Unstoppable Magnus Approach, which lets you trade Initiative for Willpower. Why? MAGNUS. There are 47 Lore Charms over 11.5 pages.

Martial Arts gets skipped to be done later, so now, Medicine. Medicine lets you be good at weakening and curing diseases and helping people resist them, restoring wounds, perfectly diagnose people, heal crippling effects by punching them, remove pain and even give temporary health. The upper levels basically just give you the chance to do these things at lesser cost or with dice tricks. All of the cool shit you do with Medicine is at the beginning. Medicine didn’t excite the old devs, apparently. There are 23 Medicine Charms over 5 pages.

Melee, on the other hand…most of the early stuff is dice tricks, because combat. It’s all about boosting your attacks and parries in the most direct way possible. It also can let you defend allies without having to stop attacking, counterattack whenever you get attacked, that kind of thing. Lots of dice tricks here and not a lot in the way of ‘you do an interesting thing’ so much as ‘you sword better.’ Just lots of swording better. Well, I guess there’s the tree that lets you telekinetically grab your sword if knocked away or summon it from anywhere, that one’s at least not a dice trick. There’s also stuff to let you attack multiple times, complete with discounts to boosting all of the attacks at once, motes-wise. Heavenly Guardian Defense is still here as the Melee perfect defense, but it is super expensive to use against anything that isn’t infinity damage unless all you’re looking for is the ability to parry unblockable attacks with your regular Parry. That’s fairly cheap. (The reason for the expense is it buys down damage one success at a time.)

Also, in a decision that has never made sense to me but is carried over from past editions: the charms to teleport your sword to you are prereqs for the one that lets you create a sword out of your soul. Glorious Solar Saber generates an artifact weapon for you, which can have Evocations. Seems a bit weird to essentially make its prerequisites useless, though, since if you’re going in on the Glorious Solar Saber you are unlikely to be using a physical sword that you will need to teleport to yourself at any point. I like Glorious Solar Saber for doing something cool, though, rather than just dice tricks. It makes a glowy sword you can superheat to destroy mortal weaponry. There are 38 Melee Charms over 8 pages

Next time: Occult, Performance, Presence, Resistance

Wizard Powers

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Exalted 3rd Edition: Wizard Powers

Occult lets you do stuff like see invisible spirits, get a permanent radar that lets you know when to use the charm that lets you see spirits, attack immaterial beings, steal their Essence, force them to materialize and so on. Basically you get a lot of tricks to fuck up spirits. It also gives you the ability to speak and understand Old Realm and other spirit languages, sense the use of sorcery, eat spirits to gain their power, remove possessing spirits or “malaises of the soul” which are entirely undefined in system terms, learn thaumaturgy cheaply, see through magical disguises or shapeshifting, astrally project into people’s minds and fight their minds…the examples on that one are entering a Raksha to retrieve a soul they ate, which is cool, and entering your Lunar mate to punch out their Derangements, which…suffice to say, that’s not how mental illness works, I’ve said my bit on that before. Also you can use this to force a spirit to possess people or inflict a “spiritual malaise” which apparently follow disease rules? Occult is also where you go to learn Sorcery. There are 36 Occult Charms over 7.5 pages.

Performance! Performance divides up its Charms into stuff you can use for any performance and then specific types of performance. The general applicability ones are mostly dice tricks or mote-efficiency tricks, but Soul-Firing Performance is interesting – it lets your performance cause emotions that make people reconsider decisions they’ve already made, which effectively lets Decision Points be redone. That’s useful. You can also get a Charm that basically lets you interchange different types of performance for each other, so that you could get the effects of giving a speech by strumming your guitar. Other Charms force people to stop and not interrupt your performance, or let you call up illusionary backup dancers from your anima. And then there’s Demon-Wracking Shout, which has Prerequisites: ????, because you learn it randomly by seeing a demon or the ST says you can because past life memories. It lets you shout sonic blasts against demons.

For specific performances, speechgiving and oratory is mostly about getting mobs riled up, boosting dice of people convinced by you, forcing people to have to act immediately on your words and similar. Music focuses on emotional inspiration to boost or penalize actions, singing to buff allies in battle, or otherwise buffing people with music. Dance, on the other hand, gives defense bonuses, emotional manipulation to draw out Intimacies, debuffing people’s Resolve or Guile and making people lust after you intensely and try to seduce you. Acting lets you falsify your intentions and beliefs. You can also grab ventriloquism and mimicry Charms. And then there’s the Sex Charms. Two of them.

The first Sex Charm, Thousand Courtesan Ways, boosts your Appearance and lets you seduce people without needing to target an Intimacy. Also, you can make your actions and words “effortlessly erotic, subtly or overtly sensualizing her social influence actions.” This lets you use the roll both to do a seduction and whatever other social influence you were doing. The second one? Celestial Bliss Trick needs to be read to be believed. Because it is the Charm to make you do a fuck better. Because you need a Charm for that.


The Exalt performs the body-mudra of sighs and whispers upon a lover, unleashing a torrent of unimaginable ecstasy. This intense lovemaking lasts at least three minutes, inducing a world-shaking climax in her partner. In the afterglow, the Exalt becomes the object of a temporary Defining Tie of lust that lasts for (Essence) weeks, and gains (Essence) automatic successes to social influence actions targeting her lover for the rest of the scene.

That’s right. You fuck them so good in those three minutes that now they lust after you on the same level as their core personal beliefs. Exalted! There are 36 Performance Charms over 7.5 pages.

Presence! Presence is mostly dice tricks for instill and persuade actions, though I note that Harmonious Presence Meditation relies on you embodying “virility, magnetism and grace” which…well, I’m sure that’s real fun for non-masculine Solars, you do that anyway because there is no difference between fluff and mechanics! Natural language! Anyway that particular one gives bonus dice to any social influence action with any ability except Stealth. When the fuck does Stealth roll social influence pools? I don’t know. Lots of dice tricks here, plus some stuff to buff people who are doing what you ask them to do. You can also get a really very good defense in the form of Majestic Radiant Presence, which forces people to pay Willpower to attack you at all. There is also one to make you sexier, Awakened Carnal Demiurge, which I note mostly because the name is incredibly horny and I’m so sick of this.

Presence also covers being terrifying at people for dice tricks or debuffs in combat, especially battle groups, and lets you regain the costs of stuff your targets resist, or just fucking brainwash people with preprogrammed instructions, which they then do not remember performing at all. That one is explicitly mind control. The one that forces even people that hate you to have to grovel at you isn’t, though, that’s just you being super charismatic. Also, you can take a Charm that lets you seduce people even for whom seduction by you is unacceptable influence, though thankfully a sidebar reminds us that PCs can always autodecline seduction if they want to. There are 24 Presence Charms over 5.5 pages.

Resistance is mostly about tanking hits. You get all kinds of magic to reduce incoming damage in various ways, to gain extra health boxes, to self-heal faster…it also covers putting on armor really fast, wearing armor better, resisting poison and disease and trading Initiative for Essence. Its best combat self-heals rely on being Crashed to trigger, though, which can be nasty, or only being able to heal your -0 levels. On the other hand, you can get Resistance-based counterattacks, which presumably is you bouncing attacks off your glorious shiny skin or belly. It can also tank infinite damage. You can also learn Charms that pull glowy golden artifact armor out of your ass, which can have Evocations, or you can take Charms to go into a berserker fugue. There are 26 Resistance Charms over 7 pages.

Next time: Ride, Sail, Socialize, Stealth


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Exalted 3rd Edition: HORSE

Ride begins with a Charm made of mini-charms, where when you buy it you get a bunch of minor effects and can buy more for 2 XP each. Mostly it’s stuff like ‘you never fall off your horse unless explicitly unhorsed’ or ‘you can call your horse with a whistle’ or ‘you always know if a horse is a good horse’. Minor but useful horse magic. It’s pretty okay, honestly. Other Ride stuff lets you do stupid horse balance tricks, reflexively disengage while mounted, get a bunch of Ride dice tricks, make your horse stand up automatically, allow your horse to attack on its own, allow your horse to defend you, prevent damage to your horse, speedily put armor on your horse…a lot of it is just, this other thing another ability does, but for your horse, or boosting horse speed. Lots of different ways to make horse go fast. You can also get Charms that let you steal your foe’s horse, trade around Initiative with your horse, or conjure a magic horse out of your butt.

More interesting, perhaps, is Hero Rides Away, which lets you lose Limit and gain motes and Willpower when you accomplish goals with the aid of your horse. You can also get Charms to let your horse fly, or to let you use your Dodge Charms for your horse. Honestly, I’m okay with a lot of Ride because it actively does stuff and makes your horse cool and useful. I mean, you’re gonna lose a lot if you aren’t with your horse, but frankly, it’s stupidly hard to kill a horse that has Solar Ride used on it. Still too many boring dice tricks, but what can you do? There are 36 Ride Charms over 6.5 pages.

Sail begins with a permanent ‘you are way better because ship’ thing – free dice tricks on all Sail rolls, resistance to fear because…boats, I guess, balance boost, and memory of distance routes. None of which is contingent on being aboard a ship, just knowing how to sail. Sail also provides resistance to deprivation, resistance to social influence if you woke up on a boat, boosts to navigating around danger, penalties to any foes aboard your ship, drawing Essence from your love of your ship, speeding up your ship, preventing creatures of darkness from counting as such when crewing your ship…and a bunch of stuff to boost your rolls in the single player game that is the Sail rules. Lots of dice tricks for that, and your group is going to love you being the unstoppable sailor who gets to roll all the dice while they sit around and do nothing, I’m sure.

Sail also gives weather prediction, reduces penalties from weather and currents, gives bonuses to combat for you and everyone on your ship when boarding, gives bonuses to sensing danger when on your ship, prevents Wyld mutation (for your ship and crew), lets you give your ship temporary bonus health, lets you train your crew and boost their stats, and ultimately lets you merge yourself with your ship, allowing its naval combat stats to boost your physical combat stats, and lets you speak the ancient tongue of the sea, understood instinctively by all ocean spirits and Raksha and also by the Lintha and Niobraran League, but not other sea-going nations or groups, plus a bunch of other minor ocean-related buffs. There are a total of 39 Sail Charms over 7 pages.

Socialize gets weird. It starts out by making sure you don’t make an idiot of yourself and making positive Intimacies towards you better while negative ones get worse, and does your standard issue dice tricks, sure. And it has Quicksilver Falcon’s Eye, which is…mostly useless, since what it does is tell the character when someone uses their Resolve or Guile against a social influence roll, which is something the player already knows by default, because system transparency. But then it gives an intention-reading radar, so you always know if someone uses a read intentions action near you. But once we get past all the standard intention-reading boosters or Guile-boosters or dice tricks, we get into stuff that lets you make people think you believe the opposite of what you do, or hypnotize people after successfully defending against their social influence because your soul has infinite depths.

Perhaps strangest, though, are the persona Charms. These let you set up a fake personality with fake Intimacies that you can take on when you want to act against your real Intimacies for a while without gaining Limit or whatever. You become vulnerable only to your new Intimacies, having essentially lost your real ones until you stop using the persona. You can have a bunch of personas if you want to buy Heart-Eclipsing Shroud a lot. Further, you can then upgrade it so each persona has their own Ability dots and specialties, plus different stats with about half your total XP, and it can have its own Charms your main personality doesn’t know. Your personas get to gain XP along with you, even, at half your normal rate. Which you can later upgrade to 75% your normal rate, but at the cost of each persona getting its own Limit Trigger on top of your normal one. Eventually this lets you, when you die, activate Soul Reprisal to instead of dying become one of your personas permanently, turning your old life into a persona of that personality which is now your core one. The persona stuff gets fucking weird. There are 46 Socialize Charms over 10 pages.

Stealth starts with a combination of dice tricks and turning invisible when you aren’t moving, or being hard to notice generally. It lets you do stuff like make Join Battle rolls also double as stealth checks, or gain Initiative while stealthing, or help your buddies stealth. Generally useful stealth tricks, really. Mental Invisibility Technique is a bit odd – it lets you sneak so hard that people forget you exist, even if you leave stealth, so long as you don’t start fighting. There’s a bunch of general ambush-boosting stuff, or stuff that lets you do things while stealthed without breaking stealth, such as defending someone else. This is also the ability to go to if you want to hide your anima banner, as it lets you swallow it up and then later spit it out as a blinding pillar of light.

Shadow Replacement Technique is pretty weird – it lets you grapple someone and then beat their Resolve with a Stealth roll to enter their shadow and possess them, controlling the victim except if they want to make the victim act against a Major or Defining Intimacy. You can use this to make the victim kill themselves, but you take any damage the victim takes while the Charm is active, too. You can also take Shadow-Crossing Leap Technique, which lets you teleport between areas of cover as long as there is a physical path for your body to travel. There are 22 Stealth Charms over 6 pages.

Next time: Survival, Thrown, War

Food and Familiars

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Exalted 3rd Edition: Food and Familiars

Survival is going to be doing a few different jobs. It does allow for wilderness survival here, yes. Its most basic Charm lets you spend an hour to basically automatically gather several days’ worth of food. It also has Charms to let you ignore environmental penalties to Survival checks or to approach normal, non-sentient animals (yes I know that’s not what sentient means) without danger unless they are trained to attack or maddened by pain, disease or hunger. Which honestly strikes me as a really…shitty Charm? Like, yes, animals don’t suck any more, but that’s still not great. Dice tricks abound, but that particular tree also leads into the Familiar-boosting Charms, which are honestly where Survival actually shines. The actual survival tricks are mostly boring or easy to guess – tracking, avoiding being tracked, that kind of thing.

However, Survival can turn your Familiars into terrifying warbeasts of immense power. It lets you buff their attacks, gain motes from them, teach them magical abilities, make them huge, mutate them to give them new powers, let them fight immaterial beings, make them fearless…you can get a lot out of just buffing Familiars, especially if you start out with a powerful 3-dot Familiar like a tyrant lizard or similar. I actually am okay with this, if you want to have a familiar matter and continue to matter this is a good way to do it. Also, while many of these Charms have XP costs to activate, there is a sidebar noting that if your familiar dies, any XP you invested in them is refunded. There are 24 Survival Charms over 6.5 pages.

Thrown is a combat ability, and that means we’re going to see combat tricks – going around cover, extending range, bonus dice based on high Initiative, that kind of stuff. Thrown also specializes in giving penalties to the opponent for the scene if it can land hits or other weird effects, and in being used for stealth attacks. Fallen Weapon Deflection is a notable weird one, allowing you to use your thrown weapon to either knock disarmed weapons further away or to un-disarm allies by knocking their weapons to them. Overall, though, Thrown’s as direct as any other combat ability, except being better for disarms and other weird tricks more than direct damage of single targets. (And even then, it’s quite good at that, because Solar combat suite. Just…lots of dice trick charms to boost attacks, and often somewhat reliant on stealth or ambush.) There are 24 Thrown Charms over 4.5 pages. It is by far the combat ability the old devs were least interested in.

War starts out letting you ignore penalties for having shitty soldiers and increases your unit’s Size. Then it takes a detour into you blessing your siege operators to buff their rolls for a single attack, or a single scene if you spend an hour teaching them how to ballista. You also, obviously, get access to the more standard buffs and dice tricks that make soldiers generically better and more fearless, or which let you ignore penalties for knowing nothing about the foe. After that you can get blessings for having non-shitty soldiers, ways to heal your battle groups when your foe rolls badly, or the ability to use multiple stratagems at once. War doesn’t really throw out too many surprises early on. Until Battle-Visionary’s Foresight, anyway, which lets you secretly name two stratagems, and then if your enemy uses either of them, you automatically counter them and get to act as if you’d won the War roll instead of them. There are, strangely, no War Charms over Essence 3. Why? I don’t know. There are 17 War Charms over 4 pages. Note, Solar War is still quite good, mainly on the fact that its dice tricks do stupid, stupid shit and do it early and efficiently.

Next time: The Martial Arts and Sorcery Chapter

Kung Fu Dinosaurs

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Exalted 3rd Edition: Kung Fu Dinosaurs

Martial Arts functions unlike other abilities. No one has native Martial Arts Charms, and the fighting styles derive from actual, physical styles of martial arts. Even mortals can learn those, though there’s no mechanical point to them doing so, as they don’t get the Charms so all they’re doing is wasting their XP on a useless merit and a bunch of reskins of Brawl. Martial Arts Charms are unable to be combined with native Brawl Charms or any other native combat ability Charms unless they explicitly state otherwise. However, as long as martial arts styles share the same weapons and armor restrictions, they can be combined together. Every Martial Arts style is a single Charm tree, complete in itself. New Charms cannot be added to it, though the ST may allow lost Charms to be rediscovered with aid from ancient masters or grand quests for epic understanding of the style.

Every style is limited in terms of what weapons can be used with it. Most can be used unarmed, and maybe with a handful of other weapons. Others require specific weapons and can’t even be used unarmed. Martial Arts Charms cannot be used to enhance any attack not made with their style’s weapons, nor any parry not using them. Artifact weapons are always compatible with any style using their mundane equivalents, at least…but for maximum cross-compatibility, you’ll often end up unarmed, which gives you the widest access to combining styles for goofy combos, but also means you’re very limited in terms of weapon stats. Some styles do allow unarmed attacks to deal Lethal damage, however. (Most, in fact.) Many styles also prohibit the use of armor, either at all or over a certain weight. If you are wearing armor that is incompatible with a style, you can’t use any of that style’s Charms and lose any benefits from active or even permanent Charms of that style.

Martial Arts universally have at least one Form Charm, which represents the core of the style. You can only have a single Form active at any time, and activating a new Form ends the old one. However, if you do that, any motes committed to the old Form are transferred to the cost of the new one, so you only need to pay the difference in costs – and if the new form is cheaper, you end up uncommitting the extra motes and can transfer to the new form free. This does not, however, apply to anything that enhances or modifies a Form. Other notable Martial Arts keywords are Mastery and Terrestrial. Mastery means the Charm has greater effects in the hands of a Solar or Abyssal; Sidereals will, we are told, also have ways to access Mastery effects. Terrestrial means the Charm has lesser effects in the hands of Terrestrial Exalts. (The game actually specifically says Dragon-Bloods, because they forgot that Liminals and most Exigents are also Terrestrial.) However, Dragon-Bloods have methods of bypassing this restriction via use of the Immaculate Martial Arts styles. The reason for these two keywords is simple: to make Martial Arts competitive for all Exalts without being underpowered for Solars or overpowered for Terrestrials.

Snake Style is a fast, agile martial art that focuses on precision pressure point strikes over brute force, even channeling poisonous Essence through the fingertips. It is popular in the South and East, in emulation of the native serpents, and the style (like many animal-based styles) is ancient, dating back all the way to the First Age. Its strikes favor two-finger jabs to resemble fangs, but it can also be used with seven-section staves and hook swords. Any unarmed attack enhanced by Snake Charms can always be stunted to deal Lethal. Snake is compatible with light armor.

Snake Style combines cheap defense (which in Solar Hands get cheaper and more efficient the more you need to use them) with a cheap damage-booster against folks slower than you, plus quick access to Snake Form, which penalizes enemy attacks and increases your Soak, plus you can auto-activate it when you hit slower people with Withering Attacks. Above the Form, the style allows you to ignore foes’ armor, give out a number of different pressure-point-based debuffs, increased damage, the ability to stretch your attacks out to Short or even Medium Range and drag people to you, make reflexive but weakened clashes, reduce Decisive damage at the cost of Initiative, and at its pinnacle, poison foes. There are 10 Charms in Snake Style, ranging from Essence 1 to 3.

Tiger Style favors strong, quick attacks that pounce and leap, chasing the foe around and wearing them down. Once they’ve closed in, practitioners cripple the limbs and go for the kill. Tiger Style is often seen as arrogant, impatient or cruel, as are its martial artists. The style uses unarmed claw strikes and raking attacks as well as tiger claws (read: big metal claws). An unarmed attack enhanced by Tiger Charms can always be stunted to deal Lethal. Tiger is compatible with light armor. Tiger Style is noted to often rely on Athletics to chase foes down and Stealth to ambush them.

Before the Form, Tiger Style lets you steal Initiative via rushes, or turn extra damage dice directly into post-soak damage dice (expensively, but it’s very potent as an effect) or even just straight up damage, if the foe tried to run. Tiger Form makes you deal more damage when you hit, removes all penalties from fighting while prone and gives bonuses to rushes and to preventing foes from disengaging. You can auto-activate it when you hit with a Decisive Attack that deals enough damage. Above the form, you increase your defenses based on your Strength and get an emergency damage reducer, grapple better, do extra damage when savaging in a grapple, easily knock people over and penalize people for standing up from prone, cripple people at the cost of decisive damage, keep people out to Medium range from retreating, and get a bunch of dice tricks when attacking people, especially from surprise or against retreating foes. The ultimate ability lets you deal extra damage in the Form and get a free Defining tie of hatred towards your foes, plus a free reflexive Rush per turn, but while in this frenzy you can’t withdraw or disengage. There are 11 Charms in Tiger Style, ranging from Essence 1 to 3.

Single Point Shining Into the Void Style is a sword style focused on intense speed and perfect finishers. It’s…it’s iaijutsu. You draw your blade and strike or parry in the same move, then sheathe it again, the foe having ideally been slain already. Against foes of equal skill, it instead relies on meditative focus and quick attacks, looking for the moment of weakness in the enemy that will allow for the deadly finish. The style can be used only with slashing swords (and, obviously, their artifact equivalents). No unarmed combat here. It is compatible with light or medium armor.

The style starts out pre-Form with reversing onslaught penalties on attackers instead and doing extra damage on Decisive attacks at the cost of greater Initiative loss on misses. Single Point Shining Into the Void Form gives your sword a separate Initiative track, representing your speed and ability to attack twice per round, but the only thing your sword can “do” on its turn is attack. Your sword’s Initiative gets tracked separately from yours for all purposes, and attackers choose whether to damage your Initiative or the sword’s when attacking you. If your sword Crashes, the Form ends. Above the Form, the style gives you even more extra damage with a few stacking damage tricks, zwee fighting dash attacks, reflexive clashing that, while the Form is up, can also be used to make dangerous counters, using clash attacks to counter magic that’d warp the mind or body (including using your sword to parry Wyld mutation) and, at its cap, making a sword pressure wave to make a terrifying unblockable and undodgeable attack while the Form is up. there are 9 Charms in Single Point Shining into the Void Style, ranging from Essence 1 to 3.

Next time: White Reaper, Ebon Shadow, Crane and Silver-Voiced Nightingale Styles

Dynasty Warriors Style

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Exalted 3rd Edition: Dynasty Warriors Style

White Reaper Style is designed to use weapons with a long reach, like scythes or spears, to take on multiple foes at once. Its practitioners love to fight while outnumbered, and they are at their best when surrounded and dealing with huge amounts of foes. While it isn’t weak in single combat, it excels against battle groups. Users are surrounded by a corona of white Essence that grows and weakens as they slaughter their foes and use it to fuel powerful Charms. White Reaper is compatible with scythes, spears, staves and unarmed strikes that emulate their wide reach and whirling blows. Unarmed attacks enhanced by White Reaper Charms can always be stunted to deal Lethal. White Reaper is compatible with any armor.

Before the form, you can boost your attack damage and turn your onslaught penalties into onslaught bonuses. White Reaper Form lets you double 10s even on Decisive damage rolls and lets you treat battle groups as if they had lower Drill than they do for Defense, lets you move through them without spending Initiative and generates an Essence halo whenever your defeat or Crash a non-trivial foe. Each Halo adds to your Resolve. You can auto-activate the Form when you begin your turn in Close range of 3+ non-trivial foes or inside a battle group. After the form, you can get increased damage dice tricks, especially against battle groups, plus extra accuracy per halo at the cost of losing your halos, or you can get automatic successes on damage that hurt battle groups more and do more damage per halo at the cost of losing all halos, or you can attack two foes at once (plus extra foes per halos, at the cost of your halos), or you can get extra Parry with bonuses per halo spent, or you can increase your armor based on your halos. The ultimate technique lets you absorb your halos to heal yourself, reduce wound penalties, terrify battlegroups and trade halos for Initiative during the scene. There are 9 Charms in White Reaper Style, ranging from Essence 1 to 3.

Ebon Shadow Style is an assassin’s style, meant to fight from stealth and dodge into cover before launching unexpected blows. Not all of its users are wicked killers, however, and the style originated in the hands of heroes who wished to teach evil to fear the dark. Ebon Shadow uses fighting chains, unarmed blows, sais, tiger claws and knives, aiming for vital areas such as the jugular, solar plexus and similar. Unarmed attacks enhanced by Ebon Shadow Charms can always be stunted to deal Lethal. It is incompatible with any armor whatsoever. It also wants you to be good at Stealth, obviously.

Before the form, you can give a penalty to people opposing your Stealth checks, you can fake your own death after being hit to get out of a fight, and you can bypass armor partially, especially with unexpected attacks. Ebon Shadow Form makes your anima dark and shapeless to conceal you, and anyone that fails to spot you stealthing losing Initiative, and you get bonus Initiative after Decisive Attacks, plus a minor Defense boost. If you die while in Ebon Shadow Form, your body evaporates into smoke entirely, leaving no remains. You can auto-enter the Form if you make a Stealth check in combat that beats all opponents. After the Form, you can force an opponent to have to make two attack rolls against you and use the lower, reduce Decisive damage, lunge between shadows without being noticed, or turn damage dice into automatic successes (and incidentally destroy the bodies of victims if they die of it). The ultimate technique lets you turn your stealth rolls into bonus damage on Decisive attacks. There are 8 Charms in Ebon Shadow Style, ranging from Essence 1 to 3.

Crane Style is a defensive style meant to emulate the crane in avoiding foes. It teaches not only how to fight, but how to care for your enemy and speak to them, to end a fight without violence. However, its restraint is no weakness, for the style is also master of devastating counterattacks against those that will not see reason. Crane Style usually relies on a war fan and hook sword, but can also be used with powerful kicks and chopping hand blows. It is incompatible with armor. It also suggests that you want to have decent Presence, Performance or Socialize to help, y’know, end fights peacefully.

Before the Form, you can boost attacks against anyone that’s attacked you or people you are protecting with Defend Other, and it can boost your Parry when using Defend Other. Crane Form boosts your Parry, prevents your long, flowing sleeves from being torn or stained in combat, reduces Initiative cost for Full Defense actions and lets you make counterattacks when attacked while Full Defending or Defending Other. You can auto-activate it whenever you successfully defend against an attack that makes your foe’s Initiative drop past yours. After the Form, you can make a Martial Arts check to store successes which you can then use to boost defenses or make counterattacks, you can reflect ranged attacks back at foes as a counterattack, you can jump, glide and hover through the air to move your Defend Other buddy or to attack people, you can make your counterattacks also instill positive Intimacies by commenting and educating your foes, you can get bonus damage and penalize enemy defenses at the cost of never doing Lethal damage, and you can get special weapon-based bonuses to counterattacks. Its ultimate technique lets you wield your enemy’s own Initiative as a bonus on Decisive counterattacks and force them to accept positive Intimacies as above, at the cost of being unable to kill your foes. There are 10 Charms in Crane Style, ranging from Essence 1 to 4.

Silver-Voiced Nightingale Style is an esoteric martial art, which wields the voice as a weapon. It practices strict breath control, circular breathing and special chants to allow powerful kiais with the strength to kill. Its practitioners are also performers, masters of song (or musical instrument, or rapping) that strengthen allied morale and break enemy bones with their music. While the style is in theory named after its founder in the ancient First Age, almost no one outside of Exalted whose past life memories date back that far use it; for most, it is just Nightingale Style. Its attacks are made unarmed, each blow accompanied by a kiai, or with Essence-laden vocal power. It is incompatible with weapons besides this. It is compatible with light armor, and obviously you want to also be good at Performance.

Before the form, you get the core Charm that lets you wield your voice as a light weapon which can be flurried with Performance actions without normal flurry penalties, plus you can boost your Join Battle and that of allies and help them resist fear, and you can terrify foes and force them to retreat from you. Silver-Voiced Nightingale Form boosts your Evasion and increases your Withering vocal damage, plus gives you Initiative when someone resists your social influence. You can auto-activate it when you successfully socially influence a non-trivial foe. Above the Form, you can boost your Evasion and read intentions on folks you dodge, synchronize with a foe to get better Evasion against them and rush or disengage them with a bonus and also gain Initiative when they do, you can induce despair in foes to penalize their Defense, you can make sonic environmental hazards, you can boost allied damage, and you can give allies Willpower to resist social influence with or boost their actions. Its ultimate technique lets you delay enemy actions and deal extra damage, plus anyone you kill with it is turned into a cloud of discordant sound as their heartsong is torn apart and their body decoheres. There are 10 Charms in Silver-Voiced Nightingale Style, ranging from Essence 1 to 3.

Next time: Righteous Devil, Black Claw, Dreaming Pearl Courtesan, Steel Devil

Cowboy Style

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Exalted 3rd Edition: Cowboy Style

Righteous Devil Style draws on the legend of the Righteous Devil, a furious warrior and solemn judge that wanders the land to protect the innocent and banish the wicked in fire. Its practitioners master the firewand, wielding these rare weapons with deadly precision. The heart of the style lies in its judgment of the wicked and selfish, who oppress the weak and put their own needs first, and the formerly righteous who break from their old ideals. They find these villains wanting and judge them in the purifying flame. Many Righteous Devil martial artists follow firm codes of moral conduct – though some turn against such moralizing, using the techniques without the strong ethics. Righteous Devil uses only firewands and other flame-discharge weapons; it is not compatible with unarmed attacks. It is, however, compatible with light and medium armor. This is your gunkata, though mostly rifles.

Before the Form, it gets extended range and damage, combined reloading and aiming, and turns aim dice into damage. Righteous Devil Form lets you roll Presence to intimidate people at a bonus when you first use it in a fight, gives harsh penalties to those you intimidate, lets you reflexively aim at them, allows you to use your guns as medium melee weapons (and lets them count as staffs or spears for other martial arts styles that care). You can auto-activate the Form after hitting with a Decisive Attack after aiming. Past the Form, you can ignore Cover and target weak points, create a ring of fire to hurt those who get close to you, boost damage based on how close foes are, or perform area Decisive Attacks. Its ultimate technique gives an enemy the choice to either repent their crimes (and get a Defining Intimacy focused on atonement and enter Initiative Crash if they don’t immediately surrender), or take a bunch of agg damage. Righteous Devil has 9 Charms ranging from Essence 1 to 3.

Black Claw Style was developed by the demon Mara, the Shadow-Lover, and like its creator, it wields misdirection and love as weapons. The style opens itself to enemy aggression, playing at innocence and casting the foe as a brute or madman. The style is as much about manipulating the views and emotions of watchers as it is about winning, so that it can turn bystanders against the foe and win their love. The true master can pick a fight in the middle of a crowd and come away loved while the foe is despised and dying. All students of Black Claw have an Intimacy of love towards their teacher – it’s simply impossible to learn the style without being exposed to your sifu’s inner heart and accepting it. The Intimacy is genuine, unbreakable, and while it can be weakened to Minor level, it cannot ever be removed or have its context altered, even by magic. This is the nature of the demon Mara. Black Claw exclusively uses unarmed attacks, focusing on claw strikes and lunging kicks, and is incompatible with armor. Dodge and Presence are both quite useful to its practitioners.

Before the Form, Black Claw lets you make everyone think the other side started the fight even if you did and gains Initiative based on how many people it fools, lets you make social influence as a counterattack to make your attacker (and bystanders) like you, and poison enemies to steal their Initiative. Black Claw Form boosts Evasion and attempts to disengage or withdraw, reduces the Initiative cost of disengaging or withdrawing, and makes it easier to hit people who like you or those standing near them. You can auto-activate it whenever you successfully defend against a foe and it causes them to drop past you in Initiative. Above the Form, you can penalize attacks based on your Guile, buffs your grapples but prevents you from savaging or throwing the foe (but extends the duration of poison on whoever you grappled), lets you disarm and steal weapons of attackers (and use them as style weapons) while making onlookers like you and hate the foe, and make a Presence-based social influence counterattack to make onlookers try to stop the fight or protect you. The ultimate technique lets you coat your hand in black shadow and deal massive damage to a target that likes you. If you take a foe out this way, you tear their heart out and burn it to ash in your hand. Black Claw has 9 Charms, ranging from Essence 1 to 3.

Dreaming Pearl Courtesan Style is a subtle style, designed to maneuver around foes, find the perfect spot to strike and get past the foe’s defenses by earning their trust. Once the victim is at their most vulnerable, whether that means in bed, having food with a friend or meeting in secret, the style reveals its killing nature, striking them down with dream-like grace. The style’s unarmed strikes resemble dance moves more than anything, and it also uses war fans, whips and improvised weapons such as clothing or teacups. It is incompatible with armor. Dodge, Performance and Presence are frequently used skills for Dreaming Pearl Courtesan stylists.

Before the Form, you can boost Evasion or disengage checks (with extra bonuses for being pretty), you can increase a weapon’s damage based on its accuracy or turn something not normally usable as a weapon into one with special bonuses, and you can make your clothing count as armor compatible with the style (even though normal armor isn’t) that you can boost further by being pretty. Dreaming Pearl Courtesan Form lets you attack at range with your martial arts attacks and makes your clothes and improvised weapons boosted by your Charms count as Artifacts. You can auto-activate it whenever you disengage really well. Above the Form, you can further boost your weapons based on their abilities, boost your damage and get massive bonuses if you are ambushing a foe, have intimate knowledge of them and/or have been fucking with them successfully using the style, get a bonus to social influence to make people like or trust you and drain Initiative while you do so, and penalize foes’ attempts to disengage, rush or grapple you based on your prettiness. Its ultimate technique is super weird, allowing you to reveal your true Essence and become a giant gazelle-giraffe-fish monster that can fly, tank hits better, and boosts the style’s Charms while you’re in the form. However, if you get hurt sufficiently to take a -4 wound penalty while in the form, you vanish from reality in a puff of dreams. …yes, really. Dreaming Pearl Courtesan has 9 Charms, ranging from Essence 1 to 3.

Steel Devil Style is a dual-blade style that cuts people up. It is elegant, graceful and impossibly fast, attacking from every direction at once. It can be used with any paired swords, but is not compatible either with single blades or unarmed attacks. “Some claim that the masters of Steel Devil Style learn to concentrate their fighting skill in one hand, and to contain their killing intent in the other.” I’m not totally sure what that means. You must have paired swords. It is compatible with light and medium armor. It also gives you a special stat, called Offhand Charge, that lets you store Initiative in your offhand weapon.

Before the Form, it boosts your Join Battle and lets you shift successes into Offhand Charge, deal damage twice if you manage to beat an opponent’s Defense twice over, do the same but three times if you beat their Defense by three times, and make a special Decisive Attack if you do enough damage with the double attack to beat your Offhand Charge. Steel Devil Form increases your capacity for Offhand Charge, increasing further whenever you Crash a foe, and ignores the offhand penalty, plus reduces the costs for earlier Charms. After the Form, you can risk Offhand Charge to get successes on a rush, make a Decisive attack against everyone nearby with damage based on your Offhand Charge, boost your parry and make counterattacks based on your Offhand Charge, turn your Charge into extra Parries that you have to force an attack to get past if it gets past your normal Parry with special sfx (but no mechanics) if you retain some Charge, do the same special attack as before the Form but spending Charge instead of Initiative to do it, and gain Charge plus launch a new set of attacks if you manage to land basically every special attack you have in order. The ultimate technique lets you activate your counter stance and the Form at a slight discount. Steel Devil has 13 Charms, ranging from Essence 1 to 3. It is also way more obtuse and boring than any other style.

Next time: Sorcery.


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Exalted 3rd Edition: Wizards

Sorcery is a terrifying power feared across Creation, because it breaks rules. It shapes the Essence of the world itself, commanding the basic forces of reality and demanding obedience even from potent spirits. Its power is divided into spells and sorcerous workings, which is new for this edition. Spells are specific, discrete effects that you can call up relatively quickly, while sorcerous workings are great mystical projects that are unique, take time to complete and have wide scope. Sorcery is divided into three circles, known in the First Age as Terrestrial Circle, Celestial Circle and Solar Circle, and to modern Realm sorcerers as the Emerald, Sapphire and Adamant Circles, though since the vanishing of the Solars, no one has really been using the highest circle. Lunars and Sidereals can access to the Celestial Circle and Terrestrial Exalts can manage the Terrestrial Circle but no higher; Abyssals use necromancy, which isn’t in this book. Solars can access the highest tiers of sorcery, however.

To become a sorcerer means following some method to achieve enlightenment into the nature of reality. Most sorcerers have a teacher. Realm sorcerers usually study at the school known as the Heptagram, while others might learn from demons, elementals or stranger beings. A few sorcerers seek their own paths, using meditative techniques or mind-bending contemplations, sorcerous relics or places of power or studying in lost, ancient libraries. No matter what, all paths to sorcery involve effort, dedication and a willingness to put aside old views and beliefs. Sorcerous enlightenment requires you to see the world through new eyes, after all.

Unlike Charms, sorcery does not tap into your mote pools. You don’t draw on your own Essence to do sorcery. Instead, you must manipulate the Essence flow of the world around you, shaping it into a sorcerous pattern in order to activate your spell. This is done via Shape Sorcery actions. You declare what spell you want to cast, then make Occult rolls, with each success giving one mote towards the spell’s cost. It may take you multiple rounds to channel enough Essence into your spell, but once you have enough, you reflexively cast the spell. Shape Sorcery cannot be flurried, but it can be used in combat. You can pause in your shaping to do other combat actions, but for every round you don’t gather any sorcerous motes, you lose three sorcerous motes. You must abort your spell to start casting a different one, however, and cannot transfer sorcerous motes between the two – casting a new spell before you finish the old one loses all sorcerous motes. Otherwise, they drain at that 3 motes per round rate. Certain spells require extended periods to shape and cast, and the game doesn’t track sorcerous motes for them. Instead, they are noted as having a Ritual cost, and just aren’t usable in combat time.

Most spells also cost at least 1 Willpower, which must be paid when you start casting. However, if you successfully cast the spell, you regain 1 Willpower spent on it from the fulfillment of your sorcerous design. If you abort the spell, fail to cast it, or have it countered, you do not regain any Willpower. Sorcerous motes are not committed…which is good, because they aren’t from your pools anyway and are purely a resource you gather to cast the spell. No matter how long a spell’s duration is, once it’s cast, it just goes, with no further investment from you. If you are in Crash when you cast, you regain no Willpower from the casting, and all spells cost an additional 3 sorcerous motes to cast in Crash. All Sorcerers also have at least one control spell, a signature spell that they excel at beyond all others. Most spells grant special benefits if taken as your control spell, and some shaping rituals, which we’ll get into, give bonuses when casting your control spell.

So, I mentioned countering. A sorcerer can attempt to unravel another sorcerer’s spell during the casting. This is an Occult roll, and every 2 successes on it drains 1 sorcerous mote from the spell. If you know the spell you’re attempting to counter, you instead drain 1 mote per success. However, to use countermagic, you must be within Short range of the caster and must be initiated into the same level of sorcery as the spell being cast. If you reduce the spell to 0 sorcerous motes, the casting is broken and the sorcerer must start over, paying any Willpower costs over again. However, the mystic backlash of a countered spell prevents the countered sorcerer from using Shape Sorcery as their action on their next turn. Countermagic can be done as a combat action, but it can’t be flurried.

Once a spell is cast, it is harder to deal with. You can’t just turn it off. However, a sorcerer can attempt to twist a standing spell, using a Distort action. This is an extended Occult action, with a difficulty based on the spell’s circle. It’s much easier to distort a Terrestrial Circle spell than a Solar Circle one. Each spell has a different goal number and different effects when distorted, but it almost always diminishes the spell’s benefits or turns some of them into a drawback on the caster. Instant-duration spells or spells that summon stuff typically cannot be distorted, however. Distortion always has a terminus of 5 – you get five rolls to attempt the distortion, and if you fail, you can’t try to distort that specific casting of that spell again. As with countermagic, you must be in Short range of the spell’s target or effect and must be initiated into the appropriate Circle. If you don’t know the spell you’re trying to distort, your rolls are at -2. Attempting to turn off a spell completely requires a sorcerous working, with an Ambition of 3 and the same circle as the spell you’re trying to negate. The ST may alter these guidelines to fit the story, and may declare some effects simply cannot be fully negated and dispelled at all, while others may be easier to undo. What’s Ambition? We’ll get to that. Eventually.

Every sorcerer has at least one Shaping Ritual, which is a method to perceive and shape Essence into the proper shapes for spells. It is possible to have more than one – Solars get one for each Circle of sorcery they have the Charm for, for example. They each represent your unique path to understanding sorcery. Maybe you bargained with a spirit, or use a relic to access the power, or you must keep a specific taboo or ban. Each path will have a few options for shaping rituals and Merits you can buy, and you can mix and match paths if you have access to multiple rituals. You can come up with your own paths, too – the ones in the books are examples.

Next time: Shaping Rituals


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Exalted 3rd Edition: Wizards

Your first ritual option is Bargain with Mara. The deer-footed demon Mara, who chases after lovers with dark fates and feeds them souls, is a lovely, wicked creature who sometimes enters Creation, usually by being summoned, and sometimes enters dreams. Through whatever means, you have convinced her to make a pact with you, teaching you the power of the Shadow Lover to cast sorcery. There are three options for her ritual:
The available merits are: Infernal Nobility (1), which makes demons respect or like you. Dark Paramour (2), which means Mara comes to you in dreams to feed you souls, and you can have her show up in your dreams once per story. If she does, you don’t regain Willpower that night but get some special benefit chosen by the ST, such as a dice trick on your spellcasting the next day or the service of a First Circle demon, but also receive (or strengthen) a Minor Principle of “I take pleasure in death and suffering.” And Demonic Tattoos, which do not actually have a merit value, but let you learn Evocations that manipulate shadows or darkness, alter your control spell to incorporate themes of darkness or subversion, or manipulate and empower summoned demons using these themes.

Next, Pact with an Ifrit Lord. You have stood before an elemental lord of fire, passing whatever test was set before you. The result? Now, you can draw strength from fire and shape it to your will as the source of your sorcerous might. The possible rituals:
The available merits: Unburnt Majesty (2): Because of your contract with a lord of flame, you get double 8s to resist environmental hazards based on heat and fire and a bonus to soak and Hardness against purely fire-based attacks. The Burning Name (2): You may speak your patron’s name to summon flames from your eyes, fingertips or mouth, sufficient to light a campfire or burn binding ropes, or to attack with an Occult roll to target the flames, which have the stats of a mundane light weapon. Suzerain of Endless Flame (2): You are a master of fire magic, and whenever you cast a spell that creates or manipulates flame as its primary effect, or when you summon a fire elemental, you lower the cost by 3 sorcerous motes. If it’s your control spell, you also pay 1 less point of Willpower for it once per day.

Scarred by Nightmares represents a mark by the Wyld or madness. Maybe you were lost in the Wyld as a child, or you went there to fight. Maybe you were wracked by maddening dreams or discovered secrets no mind should understand. Whatever the case, you saw something numinous, powerful, beautiful and terrible. You saw only a glimpse, but it marked you and changed you. Part of the Wyld now dwells in your soul, empowering you with the nature of chaos. The rituals:
Merits: Child of Madness (4): You are immune to Wyld mutation, delusion and addiction, but iron weapons deal agg to you as if you were a Raksha. Miracles of Shadow and Chaos (4): You can draw power from the Wyld, getting double 8s to all Shape Sorcery rolls while in the Wyld, and can do sorcerous workings while in the Wyld at no XP cost. However, any such workings cease to exist outside the Wyld, returning only when you return to it. The ST may retroactively charge XP for anything that cheats or circumvents this limit in play.

Soul-Perfecting Elixir is a mystical alchemical draught that has transformed your body into a living cauldron. Your sorcerous power is rooted in the makeup of your body and the flow of Essence within and through its meridians. By using alchemical catalysts and ascetic practices, you keep your body as a perfect medium for sorcerous power. Rituals:
Merits: Deep Breath Cultivation (5): You can spend an hour of meditation to regain all motes in your pools, and you regain more motes per hour while active based on your Stamina, due to your powerful control over the humors of air in your lungs. Flowing Intention Cultivation (4): Your control of the humors of water in your kidneys means that as long as you maintain an ascetic lifestyle, you may get a bonus success on an action once per day as if you spent 1 WP without actually spending Willpower. Living Spirit Cultivation (3): You get bonus dice on rolls to resist poison and disease due to your mastery of the humors of wood in your liver. Pure Heart Cultivation (2): Once per day when your Resolve is overcome by influence that opposed an Intimacy based on temperance of abstinence, you may lower the WP cost to resist it by 1 due to your mastery of the humors of fire in the heart. Vital Force Cultivation (3): Due to your mastery of the humors of earth in your spleen, you do not apply deprivation or wound penalties to mental actions you take, including Shape Sorcery rolls.

The Talisman of Ten Thousand Eyes is an example of a sorcerous relic. It is a talisman of orichalcum carved with runs and set with a ten-faceted ruby, each of which reflects ten more facets within, which each reflect more. The talisman serves as a channel for sorcery, and its many ‘eyes’ watch out for evil forces and can be used as mystic lenses. Similar artifacts can be made as 4-dot Artifacts, but also require an Ambition 1 Celestial Circle sorcerous working before you can begin crafting them. Such an artifact automatically gives its owner one of its sorcerous rituals free. However, you don’t need the Artifact merit to start play with this if it’s your starting sorcerous ritual – taking it as your ritual works just fine for that. Rituals:
Merits: Astral Meditation (1): Once per day while wearing the Talisman, you can waive the Willpower costs of any spell that lets you sense things remotely or project your presence at a distance. Eyes of Crimson Warning (2): The Talisman’s ruby pulses with a warning light when within 10 miles of dangerous sorcery, such as a sorcerer wreaking havoc with spells, a demon bound to an evil cause (or unbound and rampaging) or an ancient sorcerous curse. Any tracking rolls to pinpoint and find such a danger get double 9s. Evocations: Not a merit, you can just buy Evocations for the Talisman, which will usually enhance your senses (mundane or spiritual) or enhance or alter spells.

Other rituals include:

Can mortals become sorcerers? Yes. They must have Occult 3, and then purchase a shaping ritual as a 5-dot merit. Most mortal sorcerers never get more than the one ritual, but optionally the ST may allow multiple rituals from one source or even different sources. They can only learn up to Terrestrial Sorcery.

Next time: Spells

How Am Magic

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: How Am Magic

So what can you do with spells? Terrestrial Circle spells can do a lot of stuff. Cirrus Skiff can summon a cloud boat that flies around based on your telepathic orders until you leave it alone for a scene (or indefinitely, if it’s your control spell). Distorting it makes the cloud turn heavy and foggy so it controls shittily and can’t go very high. Corrupted Words lets you mindfuck someone so that there’s a single subject they literally can’t talk about, period, and they vomit maggots if they try, lasting until you release them and pull the evil maggot words out or you die. Distorting it lets the victim talk about the subject for a few minutes, but they have to do so cryptically or with lots of metaphor and can’t do so in specific details, and they have to vomit maggots after. As a control spell, you can cast it secretly. Death of Obsidian Butterflies lets you shoot a blast of razor-sharp obsidian butterflies at people that does a bunch of damage and breaks scenery and leaves awful ground shards. As a control spell, it gets more accurate and also when you get mad butterflies appear in your shadow and your nails turn into obsidian, able to cut stuff. Demon of the First Circle summons demons that either must obey you for a year and a day or that you can set to a specific task and they stick around until that’s done. (Assuming you bind it properly. If you fuck that up and fail to banish it, it’s probably super mad at you.) There is no special control spell bonus, because this is already one of the best spells in the game. Demons are extremely versatile servants, are extremely loyal if you’re literally any good at all at summoning, and will, at First Circle, not even be a notable risk as long as you keep their quirks in mind. Demons are a giant toolbox of spirits you can call up for nearly any purpose.

Flight of the Brilliant Raptor is like Death of Obsidian Butterflies – it’s a giant fire attack instead of glass butterflies, yes, but it’s still a big artillery blast. As a control spell, it has better range. Infallible Messenger summons up a magic six-winged cherub to go deliver a message to someone, no matter where they are, within hours. Only its recipient can see it, even. As a control spell, you can piggyback on its senses, letting you use certain Charms while it delivers your message, and also means the cherub shows up in images and reflections around you all the time. Invulnerable Skin of Bronze coats you in living bronze armor, which is pretty heavy but very tough, and gives you the power to bounce weapons off your skin, reduce damage, or make your skin explode to absorb a really nasty attack. As a control spell it’s even better armor but makes your skin bronzey all the time. Distorted, it becomes extremely heavy and hard to move in, plus gets rid of the spell’s bonus powers. Mists of Eventide calls up a magic fog that poisons people and makes them sleep. As a control spell, you can control the dreams of anyone it sends to sleep and make them sleepwalk to your commands, but you sleep with your eyes wide open when not in the fog. Distorting it weakens the poison and can wake people up.

Silent Words of Dreams and Nightmares lets you watch and control someone’s dream in a reflective surface and use it to make social influence, as long as you have some symbolic link to them. As a control spell, you don’t need the link. Distorted, the spell increases the victim’s Resolve against the dream’s influence. Stormwind Rider summons a tornado for you to ride through the air. It’s faster than the cloud boat but flies lower. As a control spell, winds move based on your emotions and you can jump farther because the wind likes you, plus you can extend its duration or boost its speed. Distorted, the tornado tries to throw people off. Summon Elemental is like Demon of the First Circle, but instead it calls up an elemental, and rather than pulling it from somewhere it just straight up makes it out of Essence. It’s safer (elementals can’t break free, they just dissolve) but you elementals are usually weaker and dumber than demons. Wood Dragon’s Claw turns your hands into huge claws of oak, which you can use with claw-based martial arts and which work like Artifact claws, but can’t use for fine manipulation. They can become spiky to do more damage while grappling or can be given weapon tags. As a control spell, you can learn Evocations for the claw that can be used while the spell is active. Distorted, the claws grow wildly and entangle the caster’s arms, forcing them to break free of the entangling vines before they can do much.

Celestial Circle spells are more powerful. Cantata of Empty Voices makes a choir of wraiths that sing a killing song that hurts any foes nearby and terrifies them. As a control spell, you can maintain it even during Crash, so long as you avoid getting hit by a Decisive attack. Distorted, the choir’s song only does Bashing damage and can’t roll over to Lethal. Demon of the Second Circle is like Demon of the First Circle, but it calls on Second Circle Demons. They are more powerful and more dangerous, and each one is an individual, special being, the soul of a Third Circle Demon and with its own agenda. Some of them are sorcerers! They’re real useful as allies, though, and can be very potent. Impenetrable Veil of Night makes a column of pure darkness around you that is very hard to pierce and fucks with the senses, plus terrifies armies. As a control spell, your voice is always distorted, but you get a bonus to stealth in darkness and shadow and a penalty to stealth in open, daylit areas. You also get a bonus to movement actions at night but a penalty during the day. Distorting the spell makes the darkness part in the caster’s immediate vicinity for an hour or so. Incomparable Body Arsenal turns you into a black iron robot that can pop weapons out of wherever you want and makes you count as heavy Artifact armor, lets you not breathe and ignore temperature, and hit really hard. As a control spell, you can learn Evocations for your robot form that can be used while it’s active, and your weapons can be charged up to be Artifact-level, your feats of strength can be boosted and you can charge yourself to gain extra health levels. Distorted, the caster suffers a temporary crippling amputation as the weapons turn inward on part of their body.

Ivory Orchid Pavilion summons for one day a giant marble flower that is also a mansion full of rich food and wine and makes people happy and content while they’re in it and makes the area around grow orchids for a few years even once the spell ends. As a control spell, the spell can be made to last indefinitely. Distorted, it makes everyone inside suspicious of each other until there’s a dramatic confrontation. Magma Kraken summons a monster made of ten tentacles made of lava to fight for you. It hits really hard and is pretty tough, and it breaks shit really well. As a control spell, fire forms tentacles near you and will do things to help you out in small ways, and heat and smoke rise when you get angry, which you can use for various stunts. Distorted, it is unable to see or attack the distorting sorcerer or their nearby allies. Shadows of the Ancient Past summons up illusions of past events for you to watch and examine, with mental speed controls, though anything past 500 years ago tends to be indistinct and anything less than a year old is too faint to get much from. As a control spell, you can record anything you see via this spell and can replay it at will later. Distorted, the spell can be made to show false images or contradictions to its caster. Travel Without Distance teleports you to anywhere nearby that you’ve seen in a giant vortex of light, but it’s kind of disorienting for several hours after. As a control spell, you can bring friends with you.

Solar Circle spells are extremely potent. Benediction of Archgenesis calls down a rain that brings life, revitalizing an area of hundreds of square miles and making it lush and fertile, or turning fertile land into an area of hypergrowth that can deplete the soil terribly, once per story, in an area you haven’t used it already within a thousand miles. As a control spell, that’s a hundred miles, and life springs up wherever you stay. Distorting the spell creates a barren zone in the fertile area that corrupts even the local spirits. Death Ray summons a giant destructive Kamehameha beam that destroys anything it touches, including terrain, and does massive damage to anyone it hits. As a control spell, you can gain sorcerous motes when it takes people out or hurts armies, using them to pay for more Death Rays only. Distorted, it protects the distorting sorcerer (and only them) by making the beam bend around them for one round. Demon of the Third Circle summons one of the immensely powerful Third Circle demons, the souls of the Yozis themselves, but it can only be cast during Calibration. It works per normal demon summoning, but binding is much harder and these things are uniformly extremely dangerous and have their own goals. Rain of Doom can only be used at sunset and it summons a massive storm that destroys an area the size of a small city with acid rain that hurts anyone caught in it, deals massive damage to scenery and burns anyone that touches the water until sunrise denatures it – and even then, the land will not grow for years or decades. As a control spell, you can move the storm while it’s in progress, but are always followed by dark clouds and darken natural light around you, freaking people out when you’re outdoors. Distorted, a small area – the size of a single structure – is protected from the storm’s rain and lightning.

Next time: Sorcerous Workings.

Working For The Weekend

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Working For The Weekend

Sorcerous Workings are how sorcerers permanently alter the world. These are your standing blessings and curses, your transformations, your owlbears. They can do practically anything, if you’re sufficiently powerful and have enough mojo on your side. Step 1: decide what you want to do. This is then assigned three traits – Ambition, Finesse and Means. Once these are set up, you are making extended Occult rolls, with a difficulty based on the Finesse, a goal number based on the Ambition, and a terminus based on the Means. Intervals are one week by default. Unlike normal extended actions, however, you can botch without ruining the entire thing. Each botch instead adds one complication to whatever you were working on. If you were making a sorcerous minion, maybe now it has to eat pure gold. A blessing on a field might be disrupted by steel tools. The core concept of the working is never compromised, but narratively interesting (hopefully) difficulties are introduced. If you fail the effort in total, however, each botch becomes a disaster. A failed minion creation ends up making a berserk creature focused on your destruction, say.

Most of the actual working of sorcery will be handled in downtime and off camera, but to perform the working, you must remain active, doing various rituals, experiments or whatever fits your particular method of doing a sorcery. If you can’t manage that, then that week you don’t make a roll but it doesn’t count towards your terminus, either. Ignoring a working for too long may produce problems, though – demons emerge from a half-made portal, local wildlife become aggressive due to an unfinished fertility blessing, that kind of thing. Just to keep stuff interesting. Once the rolls are completed successfully, however, there’s one step left: you have to pay XP to complete the working. Ambition 1 costs 2 XP, Ambition 2 costs 4, and Ambition 3 costs 8. If, somehow, your working is neutralized, destroyed or otherwise made irrelevant, you do get them all back, though. If you are doing a Working of a lower circle than you can cast, you get a small cost reduction.

Ambition is the power and scope of whatever it is you’re doing. It is split into both the 1-3 number and the circle of sorcery it requires – what’s easy at Solar Circle is near impossible at Terrestrial. Ambition 1 in a circle is what that circle would consider largely simple and easy to do. Ambition 2 is notable, beyond any simple spell of the circle. Ambition 3 is the pinnacle of that circle’s power. Terrestrial Workings are usually built on transforming, enhancing or weakening aspects or natural elements of the world, rather than directly creating magical shit whole cloth. When they do directly invoke supernatural forces, it is generally in some limited or specialized way. Their scope also tends to be limited – they might enchant a village’s fields with a minor blessing, but they won’t entirely overwrite the region’s nature. Their most powerful workings will generally be confined to an area no bigger than a single room or the transformation of a single person. Ambition 1 has goal number 5, and will do things like making or binding magical beings that are able to do mundane servant work but little more, enchant a path to keep people from getting lost on their way to a specific place, summon up a First Circle demon without binding it, pull a spring forth from the earth, ward a small town against a mundane threat (like forest fires) or similar. Ambition 2 has goal number 10 and can do stuff like combine two different types of plant or animal into a single hybrid species, like an owlbear, mutate the caster or a willing target, make a plant, animal or object have human-level intellect, or ward a chamber against scrying or teleportation. Ambition 3 has goal number 20 and can do things like bless a field to always have a good harvest or bless a river to always run clean, create an entirely new (but wholly mundane) species of plant or animal, breed an existing beast to have a minor supernatural power that augments its natural abilities, blight an area such that it would be impossible to make a living off farming it, or create a portal between realms that allows communication or possessions but not actual transportation.

Celestial Workings are your outright supernatural miracles that rewrite natural laws on a relatively large scale or bring supernatural power into the world directly. They can place potent blessings or curses on entire villages or city neighborhoods, and they are usually overtly supernatural in how they do their shit or at least dramatic changes in natural properties. Ambition 1 is Goal Number 25 and can do stuff like telepathically connect two people or otherwise give a useful but limited magic power, make persistent illusions that haunt an entire town, bring a Second Circle demon into the world without binding it, or turn a single room so that its interior resembles the environment of somewhere else in the world. Ambition 2 is Goal Number 30, and can do stuff like alter the weather for an entire town so that it can harvest every month for a full year or has unusually harsh winters, enchant fortifications to resist mundane damage or have some resilience against magic, give a notable supernatural power to a willing target such as blood that turns into scorpions when shed, reshape a willing supernatural being such as a demon or elemental to have a different (but related) nature, or spread mutations among the plants and animals over a wide area. Ambition 3 (Goal Number 35) can do stuff like make a loyal minion on par with a Second Circle Demon or notable deity, make an entire structure able to move in limited ways or be intelligent on the level of a human, or open a permanent portal between two different realms of existence.

Solar Workings are the height of what sorcery can do. They can rewrite the laws of reality or make new ones, can operate on a scale that covers entire cities – or much more, at the higher end, and can mess around with time, space and the workings of the soul itself. Essentially, it can do anything the GM says sorcery can do. Ambition 1 (Goal Number 40) can transform an entire region’s ecosystem utterly, enchant a small city to emulate the natural laws of another realm of existence, purify a shadowland hundreds of square miles large, extract a willing mortal’s soul and shove it in a new body, restore an old body to the peak of youth or ward an entire city against invasion with supernatural barriers. Ambition 2 (Goal Number 50) can make a city able to fly or make it bigger inside than out, enchant a city-sized region so that anyone that dies in it is turned into an elemental, curse an entire ethnic group to be unable to speak until some specific action happens, turn a demon into a god or an elemental into a specter, or so on. Ambition 3 (Goal Number 75) can alter all of Creation subtly, make a supernatural being of immense power, hurl an entire city into Malfeas or so on.

What can’t Sorcery do? It can make you immortal, but there’s always a catch. It’s never just direct, simple immortality. You might need periodic rituals to renew it, be able to die in specific conditions, or only be immortal within a certain area. It can’t resurrect the dead. You can do all kinds of stuff, like bind a ghost into a sorcerous body, implant the memories of a dead person into a clone or even make the local area allow reincarnated souls to retain their past life memories if they die in it, but you can never truly bring back someone who has died. Third, no time travel. You can’t go to the past and rewrite it, ever.

Next time: More Workings

Working Out

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Working Out

Finesse is the amount of control the sorcerer has over how the sorcerous working actually...happens. This is rated 1, 3 or 5, and that is the difficulty of the Occult rolls at each interval. No matter what, your working is going to broadly do what you want it to do. High Finesse, however, lets you define the specifics of how it's done. Finesse 1 and Finesse 5 will be equally effective, mind you. Finesse is just how much control the player has over defining the effect. At Finesse 1, the GM determines everything. The Working will always be what you wanted - if you're trying to make a clay golem, you're going to get a loyal golem made of clay. Its shape, personality and abilities, however, will be decided by the GM. At Finesse 3, you give a rough description of how what you want happens, which the GM can then polish or embellish with quirks, twists and so on without undermining your core description. At Finesse 5, you define exactly how it works, period, with the ST only having veto power over specific elements. You can lower the Finesse mid-project to get lower difficulties, but each step you drop counts as one botch towards the final complications of the working.

Means are the resources you have put towards the project on top of your baseline Can Do Sorcery powers. Means can take all kinds of forms, but their benefit is always the same: a bonus to the Terminus. Multiple Means do stack, and the design intent is that you will need the extra rolls for more ambitious workings to be able to happen. By default, with no Means, you have a Terminus of 5. What can means include? Every relevant Ability you have at 5 or at 3+ with an appropriate specialty gives +1 Means. For example, Medicine 5 to make new life, or Performance 5 to make background music that confuses and mindwarps visitors. The ST may give +2 Means instead if you have invested a ton of Charms or supernatural powers that enhance or are based on the relevant Ability. Likewise, any spell you know whose function is related to the working can be tapped to give +1 Means, like Death of Obsidian Butterflies if you're trying to create living obsidian butterflies. The aid of another sorcerer who can use the same Circle spells as the working's Circle gives +1 Means, as does the aid of a sueprnatural being who, while not a sorcerer, has powers that naturally assist in the owrking, such as a water elemental in trying to revive a dead river. Each such assistant gives +1 Means. Likewise, a group of non-sorcerers with notable Occult skill give +1 Means. However, these do not stack with each other - you can get one sorcerer, one supernatural cirtter, or one cult or other organization. In theory, a large group of fellow sorcerers working together would give +2 Means instead, but such groups are quite rare. Spending extra time (and thus extending the interval between rolls) can give Means - going from one week to one month intervals gives +1 Means, and one week to 3 months gives +2 Means. One week to one year gives +3 Means, but that means spending multiple years on your project. Rare or esoteric materials will also provide Means, with each special component giving +1 Means. The ST decides what counts as an exotic component for this purpose, but the severed head of a Wyld behemoth coated in runes might aid in warding against the Wyld, or an ancient orichalcum lantern lit by the Sun's own fire might be used to help purify a Shadowland. Particularly rare or powerful components might give +2 Means instead. Having access to a sorcerous lab or ritual chamber stocked with useful esoteric texts, occult reagents and so on gives 1 Means, but even the wealth of the Realm does not provide many of these - assembling such a lab is usually an adventure in itself. A First Age lab or sorcerous infrastructure would give +2 Means instead, if repaired and restored to its full capacity.

If you were to lose access to a Means mid-working, it reduces your Terminus and counts as one botch towards the final complications. However, if you've already used up the intervals you would have without that means and your next roll would require it, you do still get one last roll. However, once the roll is made, you halve the number of successes you get. If htis isn't enough to finish, your working fails.

Unlike spells, however, you do not strictly need to be initiated into the appropriate Circle to create a Working of that Circle. A Terrestrial Circle Sorcerer can attempt a Celestial Circle working. It's just dangerous, difficult, and takes ettra work, which you have to describe as part of your proicess. Pursuing a working beyond the bounds of your circle increases the difficulty of each roll by 2 per Circle you don't have, so you're probably going to want a low Finesse. Each failed roll counts as a botch for purposes of complicating the final outcome, and any actual botch ruins the effort entirely as well as bringing on disasters. Terrestrial Circle sorcerers also may not attempt Ambition 3 Solar Workings at all, period. The default interval length when overreaching yourself this way increases from 1 week to 3 months for one Circle above or one year for two Circles. Spending extra time for Means increases this to one, 3 or 5 years (for one Circle above) or 3, 5 or 10 years (for two Circles). Further, completing these Workings costs 4 additional XP per Circle you don't have.

Can a sorcerous working be undone? No. Not at all. Once a working is created, it cannot be countered or destroyed or dispelled. The closest you can do is making a working that attempts to achieve the opposite effect, so that the practical effects of both workings cancel out mechanically. This does not mean either working stops existing, however. The example: a Dragon-Blooded sorcerer blesses a trade route to make travel along it faster, while a Solar makes a counter-working to slow travel. Mechanically, this means that travel is at normal speed. However, the actual in-world effects remain. The Dragon-blood's working bound the local spirits to care for the road and aid travelers, while the Solar's cursed travelers with irrational caution and made any steed brought on the road panic and flee. So now, a traveling caravan loses its horses when it starts the trip on the road, but then minor elementals come to their aid in pulling the wagons. The caravan leader is beset by doubts and fear, but spirits whisper to them in the night to soothe them. The trip takes normal time but has become extremely weird.

The easiest way, however, is just to interfere before it's completed. Get rid of their Means and fuck things up for them! Noticing that a working is actually starting to happen is a difficulty 3 Occult roll, and telling what it's actually going to do is difficulty 5. Sorcerers lower both difficulties by 1, and anyone who sees the sorcerer setting up the working (or their subordinates) performing the appropriate rituals also reduces both by 1. (These stack.)

Next time: Thaumaturgy

Literally No One Cares About Thaumaturgy

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Literally No One Cares About Thaumaturgy

Thaumaturgy is explicitly lesser magic, a lesser power than Charms, Evocations or Sorcery. It's a unique sort of miracle that provides useful, working rituals for those who have a special tie to the occult world. Anyone who can do thaumaturgy is a thaumaturgist. It is unique, but it lacks in the versatility of Charms and the power of Sorcery. Most thaumaturgists (thaumaturge is the word from past editions, but whatevs) are people who, for no clear reason, can instinctually perform a single occult ritual that no one else really understands. All thaumaturgists are unique people, and their rituals tend to be as well. They often are the only ones able to perform their ritual, and if they die, it dies with them unless they manage to find another thaumaturgist to teach it to. Thaumaturgy cannot be learned from books, period. A ritual can only be passed on from one person directly to another via teaching and practice. For reasons. Observing the ritual or reaidng about it is not enough, because part of the ritual is a spiritual communion. Many thaumaturgists never share their rituals, often because they rely on their unique trick for income or to gain favor with the powerful. However, there are still places in which thaumaturgic rituals are traded, particularly places like Sijan, where the funerist orders require thaumaturgists as part of their work, and will pay heavily to recruit and train them for future generations. Sijan provides excellent homes, education and official rank as morticians for those that possess the knack for thaumaturgy. Other thaumaturgists might work as fortune tellers, exercists or shamans.

Mortal thaumaturges are very rare. They are people wo have the Thaumaturgist merit. Any Exalt with Sorcery automatically gets that merit free, but mortal sorcerers do not. The Thaumaturgist merit also cannot be taught. This means it is, kind of weirdly, much easier for a mortal to learn sorcery (which is significantly more potent) than thaumaturgy. Apparently you are just either born with the knack or you aren't. Anyone with the merit can, however, learn thaumaturgic rituals. These are either one or two dots, with one dot being the easy ones (and costing 3 XP) while two dot rituals are somewhat more difficult or complex and cost 5.

What rituals exist?
Reading the Tea Leaves (1 or 2). The one dot ritual involves using tea to read your future. Whoever's future is getting read must empty tea leaves into a cup, meditate on the steam and reflections, then drink the tea while emptying the mind. When the tea is gone and only the leaves are left, the thaumaturgist then makes an Occult roll to determine their greater destiny. A greater destiny informs the target's next defining accomplishment - not a prediction of death, but of the next major course their life will take. For a more immediate future, telling the most important event the target will have that day, the difficulty goes up. Failure still gives an accurate result, but with very hazy details, and even when successful, often the thaumaturgist is unable to explain or understand the vision. They may see the person bump into a woman at a nearby dock, but don't know who the woman is or why the event matters. For two dots, you do the same thing but the flavors of tea can determine the best opportunities for success and failure within the next month. The thaumaturgist cannot give specific details or focus on specific types of things, but can generally see the largest failure or successes within a set period. Failure still gives accurate information, but it is hazy and potentially misinformed. Botching either ritual always gives misinformation. Tea readers are fairly common, and about one person in ten thousand will have the knack for it anywhere that tea culture exists.
Unquenchable Flame (1). You can gather kindling and arrange it in a circle of rocks, speaking an instinctive word that lights the kindling even if it is soaking wet. If it is raining, the rain will refuse to even fall within five feet of the fire's edge. This is a fairly uncommon ritual, last seen over ten years ago in the hands of a Tenjosi Wetlands huntsman.
Second Bread (1). You can take a loaf of bread and start tearing it up into little pieces based on your instincts, plus spend 1 WP. Your resulting bits feed twice as many people as the original loaf would have been able to. This gift has shown up about once a century ever since the rise of the Scarlet Empress. Most recently it was seen in the hands of a madman in Nexus, who would use old crusts to feed children until he was beaten into a coma by a Guildsman for slowing traffic.
Exorcism (1 or 2). With the one dot ritual, you can spend a WP and do some chanting and rituals to try and drive out a ghost with an extended Occult action based on the ghost's Essence and Willpower. The ghost takes penalties the whole time, but you have to stay in Short range of it. Success pushes it back to the underworld, and you automatically fail if you are damaged by a Decisive attack or Crashed. The dot version requires you to have a specialty in demonology and a second specialty about the specific demon involved to force a demon out of any possessing host and into a clay vessel, cow or other proxy for a month and a day. The rolls are the same, but based on the Demon's Resolve instead of Essence. A sorcerer who has bound an exorcised demon can free it by commanding it out of the vessel, but they have to find the vessel first. A second two-dot variant instead forces a spirit to return to its sanctum, but it is much harder and only works for a single night, and you can only use it on a given spirit once per year-and-day. Exorcists are uncommon, but not extremely rare, and tend to be born near Shadowlands.
Speak with Ozashun (2). This is a ritual that is only useful in the realm of Medo, where a stream runs through the mountains ten miles west of the capital. This stream is overlooked by Frozen Spring Pass, where it runs into a cave in the mountainside. This is where the being Ozashun can be called by those thaumaturgists that know the rite, on the night of the new moon, by thrusting a burning branch into the shore opposite and speaking the name of a child who trusts you. The darkness will grow deep and the stars will fade, forming the illusion of an ancient, wrinkled, toothless face. From the mouth will emerge a shadow on the water that resembles a fox or wolf. This is Ozashun, who knows all the secrets of the mountain and its stream, but only those things that have happened since the last new moon. For every question it answers, it gains the power to enter a child's dream and speak to them. Coincidentally, the mountains and specifically Frozen Spring Pass are full of the ghosts of children. The ritual is exceptionally rare, but has been recorded more than once among the hill peoples of Medo.

Truly, thaumaturgy is a mighty, setting-bending power that must be strictly regulated and which you should absolutely not just ignore completely, forever.

Next time: Quick Characters

Actual Working Antagonist Rules

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Actual Working Antagonist Rules

Quick Characters are a new (and very good) concept this edition – basically, that not everyone has to have a full character sheet, particularly NPCs. The game does say that you may want a full sheet for any NPC intended to stick around for an extended period, but honestly? Quick Characters can do pretty well even for that, especially since you can add stuff to them as needed for new situations. And they’re much, much faster to make than an actual character. You start by assigning them an Essence value and Willpower value, then determine their Essence pool, Join Battle dicepool and HP bar. Quick Characters, or QCs, do not have normal dicepools, having neither attributes nor abilities. Instead, they will have dicepools for broad actions such as ‘archery’ or ‘combat movement’ or ‘climbing.’

A QC’s dicepool for an action will be based on how good they’re meant to be at it, and it’s usually safe to default to 3 dice for anything they don’t have listed. A dicepool of 1-2 is meant to note a specific lack of skill in an area. 3-6 is a pool for something to rival a well-trained mortal or low-power Exalt in an area that’s not their focus. 7-10 dice is a master of some mortal skill or an area of an Exalt’s main competence. 11-14 dice in a pool is extremely good, on par even with specialized PC Exalts before magic comes into play. Combat actions will also come with a damage bonus for Withering attacks, to represent the weapon the QC is wielding, plus any Parry or Evasion ratings, Soak and Hardness. We get another chart to determine what defenses are meant to represent what skill level of foe, and what armor gives what ratings.

Lastly, a QC will also have a list of powers or Charms. These will almost always be simplified mechanics designed to make the QC easier to run, and will be looser and more ballpark-y than if you wrote up the character entirely. It’s not vital that all modifiers match up perfectly, after all. Generally speaking, these won’t represent all of the abilities an Exalt might have – just the ones likely to come up when dealing with them in a scene. Thus, the GM can add some if the situation requires. There aren’t great guidelines for making new QC powers that aren’t based on existing Charms, but hopefully the QC examples will help with that.

First we get mortal stats, ranging from random brigands to nomadic archers or cavalry to elite troops. They’re mostly for armies and battle groups – they have no special powers and can be beaten pretty easily by Exalts. Then we get into the somewhat magical mortals. Brides of Ahlat, say, who are the royal guards of Harborhead and the warrior-nuns of Ahlat, the Bull God. The Brides are skilled warrior with sling, firewand and spear, and can sacrifice a bull before a fight to get double 9s for some rolls and, if a whole battle group does it, Might 1. However, if they are not brave after calling on Ahlat’s power, he strikes them with disease. We get a Sijanese Deadspeaker that is also usable as a generic shaman or exorcist, who’s not much of a fighter but can do exorcisms and has some minor magic items – a silver staff that can strike ghosts and a talisman that can ward off possession.

From here, it’s into generic Weird Folks – beastmen, golems (which aren’t super accurate but are skilled fighters that are quite tough and can hit super hard if they’re okay with a defense penalty), fogsharks (which are magic sharks that can swim through fog as if it was water), and Mist, the Eternal Revolutionary. Mist was once a farmer who led a rebellion in the city of Kahla against the tyrant Storm Hawk, who went into the Wyld to gain the power to free his people. When Mist returned, he was taller, more handsome, and he raised an army and slew Storm Hawk in single combat. He chose not to rule, instead moving on to other lands, always fighting against rulers – good and bad alike. While he has sometimes been defeated, he has never been slain, and he always seems to escape any confinement and recover from any injury. While it has been decades since he freed Kahla, he has not aged a day, and he now wields the sword Interregnum in his eternal quest to overthrow all rulers. He has a Defining Principle of “Overthrow all tyrants” that can never be weakened, and if he ever dies but his body can’t be found, he somehow survives. He’s able to curse rulers whom he slaps to be seen as cruel and domineering and can make successes into 1s when a ruler or their direct agent acts against him or in his presence.

Then we get undead, which range from mindless zombies (who cause nausea due to their stench and have diseased bites) to hungry ghosts (which can track blood by scent and automatically materialize when they smell it) to more intelligent examples such as ancestral ghosts (who typically have small cults and can occasionally prophecy the destruction of others to give them a chance to prepare, can bless their descendants and can curse people with nightmares), war ghosts (who can possess suits of armor) mortwights (oblivion-tainted ghosts consumed by hate or fear that can blind the living and do poltergeist antics). On the weirder end you have Bonesiders (evil black skeletons that spread the Puppeteer’s Plague and feed on the pain of mortals) and Nephwracks (ghosts tainted by the ancient Neverborn, who can do sorcery, have cults, seek out forbidden lore and are utterly nuts due to having seen the void of Oblivion, which they can use to buff their troops or curse foes, and can eat mortal souls and possess corpses). We also get introduced to the Eclipse keyword, which denotes a Charm Eclipses can learn in a QC statblock. Here, one of those is the Honored Ancestor’s Curse of the Dead, which lets you curse someone to nightmares that prevent Willpower recovery and cause paranoia until they get an occultist to break the curse or you remove it. The other is the Mortwight’s Black Breath of the Abyss, which summons a cloud of darkness that the living are entirely blind in barring use of Charms, but which is banished by a bonfire-level Solar anima.

Then we’ve got spirits, which covers ghosts technically but is usually used to refer to gods, elementals and demons. Most can assume material form, though ghosts and lesser spirits may need to possess something instead. All spirits except elementals are naturally immaterial in their normal state; elementals are naturally material, and cannot usually dematerialize at all, though they remain able to do things like enter spirit sanctums, which material beings usually can’t do. Slain spirits are usually not permanently dead, instead reforming from their Essence over several weeks, months or years, weakened but not dead. Gods tend to reform in their sanctums (or Yu-Shan), but can be threatened with true death if their domain is destroyed or taken from them, forcing them to rely on their cult’s worship to stay alive if defeated. Slain elementals disperse back into the world unless they have a cult worshipping them or a patron potent enough to prevent their dissolution by willingly sacrificing of their own Essence. Second and Third Circle demons reform in Malfeas if slain, while First Circle demons die unless they have a cult worshipping them or a patron willing to save them, as with elementals. Ghosts may occasionally survive their own destruction and reform at the site of their death or another meaningful location to them, but often they are unable to maintain the sheer stubborn will this requires and instead pass into the cycle of reincarnation. The GM can decide if a spirit reforms or not, and can if they like roll Willpower or Willpower+Cult to see how long a reformation takes, but there’s not actually rules for how that roll works.

Next time: Gods

Divine Powers

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Divine Powers

Gods have very large Essence pools, but also tend to have expensive Charms. Almost all of them share three Charms, though these Charms are highly variable in cost and usage. Hurry Home lets them teleport back to their sanctum, a sort of tiny pocket dimension with a fixed entrance somewhere in the world that only spirits can see and access (well, spirits and Exalts with appropriate magic). Materialize lets them become material. Measure the Wind lets them sense the nature of another being, which tells them broadly what the target is. Mortal, demon, god, Wyld denizen, etc. If used on an Exalt, the Charm gives a strong sense of the Exalt’s patron, letting them sense a Solar and tell them apart from an Earth Aspect DB or a Lunar. (DBs and Sidereals, they can tell what specific subtype you are; other Exalts, no.) However, while it can pierce mundane disguise, Measure the Wind can’t beat any kind of magical deception, such as shapeshifting.

Disease Spirits are the gods that Heaven has set to overseeing the spread of disease, ensuring that neither too many nor too few people get sick, or to ensure that specific people get sick or do not. However, few disease gods remain in contact with their bosses or listen much to them these days, and most run protection rackets, spreading disease to keep people praying to them to be spared or cured. Their priests typically propitiate them rather than worship them directly and work with such plans, but a rare few actually do collaborate with the disease gods to spread the illness. Disease gods usually appear as people afflicted with the worst form of the disease they command, and their size and power is usually directly tied to the virulence and lethality of their illness. They tend to have cults of up to middling size and can easily spread their diseases just with their presence, inspire people to act in ways that make them vulnerable to the illness, and can weaken their disease (though they rarely do).

Dogs of the Unbroken Earth are gods the size of tigers, with green or red-glowing eyes. They are the gods of the wild lands, those areas uninhabited by mortals for over a century, and they are jealous guardians. Their sanctums even resemble the wild places they rule, full of trophies of their prey. They demand regular sacrifices of meat, alcohol and grain from those that would build homes, farms or roads through their domains – but if your work is too great or your sacrifices too little, they will attack instead, and you probably need to find other gods to defend you. The dogs especially hate roads and travelers, and will eagerly attack them if they aren’t protected by the power of a road or caravan god. However, the dogs don’t hate humans in general, and will be fine allies to tribes that do not build structures in their lands. The dogs rarely have large cults, but do have them, and are extremely skilled hunters, able to cripple foes with their magically charged bites and able to travel the wilderness at great speeds, track by scent and sense the rough power of those they smell, and are very good at breaking things. Eclipses may learn their Broken Earth’s Anguish, which allows them to sense trespassers in their domain or if their allies are attacked. (The dogs are limited to their personal domains; an Eclipse can use it in any dog’s domain.)

Field Guardians are the gods of cultivated land. They are mostly notable for sending dreams to farmers to tell them how to improve crop yield and ward off blights, in exchange for being granted a small portion of the field that will go unharvested and serve as their sanctum, and a promise that no structure will be built in their field without an offering of animal blood and alcohol. Violating these rules risks death, however, for the field guardians are skilled warriors with their scythes. They appear as strong people touched by the nature of their field – green or wheat-gold hair, peach or eggplant-colored skin, that kind of thing. All wear farmer’s garb and carry farming tools. They tend to have small cults and are able to take strength from their fields while in them, do terrible damage to foes in their field in order to fertilize it, and cause plants to attack their foes. They can send dreams to their farmers and are able to harvest an entire field in a day, but generally don’t like to do so without a serious bribe. The harvest is the work of their farmers, not themselves, after all. Eclipses can learn their Legendary Reaper, the Charm that lets them harvest an entire field in a single day, or their Towering Wheat Blessing, which causes plants to grow massively, enough to feed a dozen people for a day If harvested, or cause plants to turn into Difficult Terrain by attacking foes.

Storm Mothers are ugly, monstrous goddesses that have scaly, greenish skin, balding hair and clouded eyes. Some even have hunchbacks and jagged teeth. They love storms, coming out of the sea on foggy nights to call down the storms for their own joy or at a mortal’s behest. When passing through their territory, which is usually several days’ sailing wide, it is wise to pray to them for safe passage or to pray for them to go after an enemy vessel (which they are more likely to answer, as it lets them call a storm). Experienced sailors know what makes a storm mother angry: failure to offer a sacrifice or harming a mortal they like, yes. (Though the storm mothers hate any mortal who won’t defend themselves, for they despisze the weak.) They also like ravens and black dogs, so don’t hurt them, either. Most become jealous and enraged at the site of beautiful women, and they all hate the sound of a crying child. It is said that the storm mothers have no power over red-haired women, and so many lady sailors dye their hair red, and red-haired women are common figureheads. Storm Mothers rarely have formal cults but are usually worshipped by many, many sailors, and will almost always have a familiar spirit in the form or a raven or black dog. They can call up storms and command them, and can bless sailors or ships with good weather or curse them to terrible seas. Eclipses may learn their Wrath From the Sky, which summons a lightning bolt out of a stormy sky to serve as an environmental hazard and sets things on fire, or their Storm-Stirring Lash, which summons storms around them.

Ahlat, Southern God of War and Cattle, is worshipped throughout the South, but his chief cult is in the nation Harborhead, where cattle raiding is a part of life and battle skill is required as part of becoming an adult. He sees those warriors that serve him as his children, and takes virgin girls into his service as the royal guards of Harborhead, the Brides of Ahlat. He has no pity for weakness, and will happily curse his worshippers if they disobey orders or show cowardice in battle, but those who die heroically he offers a form of immortality to, sending his spirit cattle to devour their corpses and draw forth their ghosts to be woven into tassels for his cloak. Worshippers may undertake great quests for Ahlat in exchange for a gift of a tassel, which allows them to call forth the spirit and power of the warrior within it. Otherwise, he does little to interfere with wars except to counter the meddling of other gods. He is an immense man with the head of a bull, dark skin, red eyes and golden horns, and he wears nothing but a kilt and his red-and-black cloak. He wields a spear of black ebony and blood-red metal, and a lion-bone bow inlaid with gold. He lives in Yu-Shan proper, in a massive stepped palace guarded by spirit aurochs and full of trophies.

Ahlat has a gigantic cult across the entire South. He can tap the blood sacrifices offered to him to improve his speed and skill in battle, even if he’s in Crash, though he needs more sacrifices to do it more than once, and he can cause terrible, endlessly bleeding wounds with his horns, though none wounded this way will die of blood loss, because he prefers to kill personally. He can boost literally anything he does in battle, increase his bow’s damage and range, boost his Decisive attacks, or double pretty much anything he does on a Withering attack. He can call on the spirits in his tassels for speed or to call on their martial arts knowledge or Evocations or otherwise gain benefit from their skills. He’s super hard to hurt, can call up an aura of fear, can boost his defenses, and can clash with all attackers when outnumbered. He heals himself when recovering from Crash, too, and can bless armies with great power (while cursing any traitors or deserters in it) or he can hand out his tassels as blessings. Good news: your Eclipse can’t learn any of these.

Next time: Elementals


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Elementalism

Garda Birds are a form of immortal fire elemental, wise beyond time. When one dies, it is reborn in nine days in a burst of flame. The only time a garda bird truly ends is when two unite to become a new individual of the species - a rare, loving sacrifice of the parents. Garda birds are six feet long, with twenty-foot wingspans and indigo feathers. They can appear as male ('Emperor') or female ('Empress'). The Emperor form is a gold-andpurple peacock with a pheasant's head, but when tghreatened it will instead assume the Empress form, a silver pheasant with sharp claws. When truly enraged, they assume the Phoenix form, a many-headed humanoid figure with eagle head, wings, claws and tail. Garda birds have no real interest in mortals or mortal society, and prefer to live on isolated mountains, volcanos or desert plateaus, feeding on morning dew. They do not gather material things, and mortals approaching them for wisdom often gain little. They never lie, but they are proud and whimsical creatures who rarely respond at all to questions, and even the spirit courts don't see them often. They are immune to heat and fire-based environmental damage and very resilient to fire-based attacks, which cannot ever kill them or knock them out. They can fire burning feathers at foes, do massive fire-based damage, or explode. They can project a terrifying aura or change between their three forms easily. Eclipses may learn Immolating Pyre, the Charm they use to explode in flame. It makes a fiery environmental hazard that ignores allies and it does not hurt the user to activate; rather, it can be activated for free and reflexively when you become Incapacitated. Garda birds will arise from the ashes ten days later after doing that unless slain permanently with magic; Eclipses do not return from death but can still auto-activate it when they become Incapacitated.

Greenmaws are elementals of the deep jungles of the East and Southwest. While they are plants, they feel an overwhelming hunge for flesh, and will eat any meat, living or dead. Most die at the hands of angry mortals or gods or against prey that proves too tough for them. However, as they grow older and bigger, their appetite fades away, and most elder greenmaws have not attacked mortal lands in millenia, preferring to tend to their wild forest gardens and think about philosophy. A greenmaw is as thick around as a tree trunk, but as flexible and green as a fine. Its tail is a mass of prehensile roots, and its head is a venus flytrap's great jaws with the honeyed tongue of a sundew, surrounded by a ruff of leaves. Galls of metal or stone can be found on older greenmaws - coins, weapons or jewelry that the creatures eat along with flesh but could neither digest nor remove from themselves. The very eldest, of immense size, may have treasures within them dating back to the First Age or earlier. Baby greenmaws are sometimes born of stray root fragments or flowers in forest Demesnes, but a dying elder Greenmaw may choose to give its life to birth dozens of new greenmaws, which will then plague the region. The oldest greenmaws have Legendary Size, which is a rule we'll get to in a bit, but you don't usually fight such high-Essence greenmaws, as they aren't aggressive. Greenmaws can grapple stuff with their adhesive, prehensile tongues, swallow people whole or crush them in their coils. They can dig into the ground to avoid being moved or hurt, and they heal by eating living flesh. They can easily sense living prey and are extremely good at feats of strength that take advantage of their coils or tongue.

Tidemares are water elementals resembling gigantic seahorses, dozens of feet long, with prehensile tails. They have huge, bright-colored fins that shimmer brilliantly in the light and can stretch out behind them in miles-long rainbows if the tidemare wants to extend them. Tidemares are very vain about their fins and spend most of their time preening them. Large groups of tidemares usually hold big contests and games in which they intertwine their fins over miles of sea. Sorcerers and pearl divers often seek out tidemares for transportation, for they are able to distend their bellies large enough to hold a dozen people, and their belly flesh is a glass-like membrane that bodies can easily pass through. Within them, the air is always fresh and crisp, and they can speak to their passengers, though they tend to only talk about elemental gossip and the magnificence of their fins. They are tireless when swimming, as well, though vulnerable to attacks from within themselves. They can grapple with their tails or use their fins to distract attackers. They have two Charms that Eclipses can learn. Prismatic Sea-Spoor STreamers allows them to trail their fins for miles, which they may use to confuse enemy ships chasing them or to assist their allies' ships by laying a trail of light. Eclipses send the rainbow streamer out of their anima, but it is only visible in water. Racing Sailfish Surge allows the tidemare to command the water around it to move it very quickly, either in combat or out. Eclipses may only use this underwater.

Vaktri are the emissaries of the earth elemental courts and the gods of the deep stone. They appear as statues of prismatic gems, each segment no bigger than a man's thigh bone. Rows of crystals slide in and out of them like pistons as they move, and they have three legs and five arms, though they can shift their crystals to allow them to flow snakelike around obstacles or through narrow spaces. Their voice sounds like glass breaking, and their heart is a fist-sized gem. They have no faces. They are taciturn, infinitely patient beings who carry out their duties without a care, no matter what they are. At rest, they are prefectly still, as if they were unable to move at all. While their passions are not easily roused, once angered they are equally difficult to calm. The shining of their heart-jewel shows how strongly they feel, with the colors shifting based on their emotional state. They have no blood and cannot be poisoned or sickened, and they can neither see, hear, nor smell, instead perceiving the world through vibrations of the ground, which are extremely perceptive - enough to dodge an arrow by the vibration of an archer's feet or hear a whisper from the movements of a throat - but they need to have ground touching what they want to sense. They can fire gemstone needles or, if wounded, erupt into killing fragments, and they can easily harden themselves to reist attacks or reconfigure their shape to enter tiny spaces. They can also walk on stone or metal surfaces like a spider would climb, are extremely good at social influence when obeying orders from a greater spirit, and can become distractingly beautiful at the cost of revealing their own feelings.

Fakharu, Lesser Elemental Dragon of Water and Censor of the West, is responsible for investigating misconduct among the spirit courts of the West. While once loyal to Heaven, the breakdown of the celestial hierarchy has allowed lesser spirits to bribe and corrupt him. Now, he dwells in a great golden palace on a distant isle, focusing on art and study rather than seeking out spiritual crimes among the Western spirits. While he is immense and potent, he is also graceful, with scales the green and silver of the sun on the ocean, and eyes the gold of a setting sun. His claws are delicate enough to produce elegant calligraphy, and he is a witty, thoughtful conversationalist. Besides his mortal lover, Amarel, and her handmaidens, he doesn't much care for humans. He is used to being treated well by lesser spirits and has no real reason to interact with his bosses back in Yu-Shan. The only people he tends to see as peers are the rare Lunars or Sidereals that visit him, whom he treats with hospitality. He would surely do the same for Solars. While Fakharu has no cult of his own, he is given a tithe of worship from all spirits in the West, alongside a number of bribes, which amounts to quite a bit of prayer, effectively a very large cult. He has Legendary Size, which means he ignores onslaught penalties from smaller foes unless inflcited by magic, he cannot be Crashed by the Withering attacks of smaller foes unless they have 10+ dice of post-soak damage, and he takes limited damage from Decisive attacks by smaller foes, not counting any damage added by Charms or other magic. Also, he can fly tirelessly at massive speed. He can perform a blur of claws and bites against multiple foes, can drown people by turning his coils into water when grappling, and can deal lots of damage if he feels like it. He also can shoot a blast of venom at foes nearby, turn his body into water to reduce damage or heal himself by draining water nearby. When invoking his authority, he is extremely persuasive, especially to any spirits subordinate to him - which is most of them in the West. He can turn into a human form if he feels like it, though it's not much for fighting, and he has immense strength when he chooses to perform Feats of Strength. Unlike most elementals, he can also dematerialize.

Next time: Demons

Demonic Might

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Demonic Might

Agatae, the Beautous Wasps, are First Circle Demons. They are immensely beautiful creatures, appearing as giant wasps carved from rainbow crystal. The sound of their wings is as falling water, their voices are as birdsong. Their heads shine with a nimbus of golden light. However, while they are lovely, they are also dangerous. Agata minds operate far more aabstrusely than mortals, and their emotions flow quickly and change often. While they are brilliant, their philosophies largely make no sense whatsoever in human language, and their behavior is eccentric, mad or childlike even in the best of times. They may destroy what they love or abandon friends in time of need, may laugh or weep without warning, then go on their way as if nothing happened. To the agatae, this is reasonable and normal, and they don't at all understand anyone questioning their motives. By nature, an agata is a mount to ride. They feel immediate bonds with their riders - intense live and wild outbursts of other emotions. It is extremely rare for them to harm their riders, though a few have been known to shake mortals off their backs to their deaths, only to mourn them in deep or elaborate ways...usually. Sometimes they just shrug off the concept of mortality and move on, given their eccentric nature. Agatas cause wonder in all that look at them and are extremely fast, hardy mounts who can move with extreme speed when they choose. They are even able to briefly turn themselves into refracted light to dodge away from attacks without losing their riders, and can stun people in combat with their beauty.

Erymanthoi, the Blood-Apes, are also First Circle Demons. An erymanthus resembles a gigantic, garnled ape with rust-colored fur and rubbery black skin, but with immense spurs of jagged black bone jutting from their shoulders, spine and skull. Their twisted limbs are heavy and end in large black talons, and their eyes glow gold and have no pupils. While they shamble about, they move with shocking speed and have unnatural strength. They can move faster than the eye can see if they must, and bellow with force to shatter stone. Most prefer to remain material as much as possible, and even when dematerialized, their strong animal stench lingers nearby and the snuffling and grunting they do constantly remains audible, as are their scraping footsteps. They love the taste of hot, fresh blood and meat. Some are unusually eclectic in what blood and flesh they prefer, but most favor cats and humans. The cravings for blood make them hard to control, and if they become hungry enough, it is only the command of a binding sorcerer that can hold them back from attacking. They can pounce at foes to knock them down and tear into them, move with blinding speed, are very dangerous in a grapple and can attack with their powerful howl. They're good at breaking things, too.

Neomahs, the Makers of Flesh, are First Circle Demons as well. They appear as sleek, hairless, androgynous and immensely alluring mortals with purple skin. Whenever they enter a new place, no matter where it is, they spin a thread of brass and fire out of their throat, weaving a small tower over the course of one hour. This then serves as their base of operations for their one duty: courtesanship. They may alter their gender expression easily, appearing however their companions desire, and their scent is entrancing. They have no real interest in money, but instead charge in the form of part of their client - blood, seed, flesh, nails, whatever works. Once they gather enough, they cast their gathered parts into the fire atop their nautilus-shaped tower, then weave them into an infant child, a hybrid of all of the donors. Once done, the neomah will unweave its tower, inhale it back in and move on, leaving the baby behind. Sorcerers often use them for their courtesan skills, as spies or as bodyguards - but most often, they are called to make children, allowing people who cannot otherwise reproduce to have a child of their own flesh and blood. These children are wholly mortal, unlike many of the other creations of a neomah, which are strange beasts made from mixes of mortal, demon and other beings, that sorcerers often call on as guards. Neomah are creatures of passion that adore their crafts - both that of the courtesan and the crafter of infants. Others became fascinated by various other arts and crafts as well. Neomah rarely care much about their lovers or children, for whom they feel at best a distant affection, however. Neomah are attractive to all species, regardless of what they are, and can communicate even complex messages or conversations with body language alone. They are also able to weave flesh into infants, as noted above, though the more donors are involved, the more likely the child will have some abarrenat personality trait. They may spite the fire they weave their tower out of at foes, as well. Eclipses can learn their Seductive Shapechange, which allows the neomah to, having read a target's intentions to determine what they are attracted to, shapeshift into that form. They remain recognizably themselves, but may alter their gender expression, height, build, facial features and other such aesthetic traits.

Alveua, the Keeper of the Forge Of Night, is a Second Circle Demon. She is always followed by the hum of insects, for she built many of the insects of Malfeas in her forge, and they love her. Her limbs are vaguely insectile, as are her eyes and her dark skin. She is delcate, but of immense strength, and the giant, burning hammer she carries is light as a feather in her hands. When called by mortals, it is always for a single task - she takes those petitioners she favors back into Malfeas to her night-forge, where there is no light, not even the alien stars of the Demon City, and she lays them on the anvil and reshapes them into a black metal tool that fits their nature. A sword, a coin, a flask, it doesn't matter. Then, she returns that tool to Creation, where it will find its way into the hands of someone who will achieve the desires of the human that it was forged from. Sorcerers sometimes call on her to make relics of power, in exchange for mortals willing to be reborn upon her anvil. Her philosophy of existence is simple: "If I had the shaping of all things, as I have for those I reforge, then the Yozis would not be imprisoned; the gods would not rebel against them; the mortals would not be so bold; and both harmony and happiness should fill the world. Sadly, as Erembour and the Ebon Dragon are held, so held am Il and I can fix only certain aspects of Creation." This statement, above all, drives everything she does. She has a tiny cult, largely those who would offer themselves to her anvll. She does not track Crafting XP, unlike, say, the neomahs - rather, she has enough XP when it serves the story and when it doesn't, she's busy gathering it. Her hammer is powerful in combat, especially for disarming people, and she can call down a swarm of insects to attack her foes. Darkness can coat her as armor, as well, and she is extremely good at crafting, so long as she doesn't have to use orichalcum, moonsilver, jade, starmetal or soulsteel - the normal magical materials used in Creation and the Underworld. Eclipses can learn her Night-Black Carapace, which allows them wear darkness as armor which they can shatter as a counterattack to explode at anyone nearby.

Mara, the Shadow-Lover, is also a Second Circle Demon. Her appearance changes whenever she visits creation, and she may wear nearly anything, but in summer it is always green, in fall it is red, and in winter white. Her skin can be any color, her hair as well, and she may appear old or young. However, she is always beautiful, her eyes the color of sapphires, and her feet are deer hooves. There are many folk tales of Mara. Some say she is a tree spirit, but she is not - she is a demon, a seductress that saps the strength of people in the night and steals the souls of some of her lovers, drawing them forth as small creatures to bring back with her. She is attracted to mortals with dark destinies, taking them as lovers as well, but these she doesn't destroy. Instead, she feeds them stolen souls, strengthening them and making them fascinated by cruelty and death. She has a small cult, both infernalists and those who mistakenly believe her a woodland spirit, and she is the creator and a master of Black Claw Style as well as a skilled sorcerer herself, able to wield almost any spells of the first two Circles of Sorcery, save those which summon other spirits, which she cannot use. She can steal souls with a kiss, is extremely good at seduction, and is very good at persuading her lovers to cause pain or death. She can change her form in nearly any respect save for her eyes and hooves, or can turn into a housecat or a cloud of mist. She can also feed souls to people to empower them but make them gain a Major Principle of "I take pleasure in death and suffering."

Octavian, the Living Tower, the Quarter-PRince, is another Second Circle Demon. He is ten feet tall and in Malfeas he is mostly found on his alabaster throne, in his court of malachite and basalt, attended to by his manacled prayer-slaves. Oil oozes from his stone-like skin constantly, staining his throne black. He is muscular and elephant-tusked, wearing only a loincloth, from which hangs the skull of a Solar on a strand of jade beads, a broken Hearthstone set into its forehead. The oil that coats him and blights the earth where he walks is a potent, sense-destroying venom. Despite his brute appearance, he is a cunning and intelligent demon, once a champion of Malfean armies that rose to amass his own empire, now covering a full quarter of one of the many layers of Malfeas - an empire of size beyond dreams. He has fought his fellow demons over the centuries, singlehandedly destroyed many Exalts, dragons and behemoths, but he is unsatisfied. He once had loves, in the early days of the world, but he no longer pursues love at all. All that is left to him is testing his strength on the world, and he has reached the limit of what he can do in Malfeas. He is weary of his throne, having no temper for governance, and wishes to conquer new lands and new worlds. He is an eager ally to sorcerers that seek a champion or bodyguard, for even when bound to simple guard duty or murder, he sees each trip into Creation as a chance to see what he will one day conquer. He is constantly accompanied by his agata mount, Damaskenos, who even comes with him when summoned. She is the largest and first of all agatae, and is thus much tougher than the rest. He once loved the earth, but it spurned his passion, and so he is especially deadly to earth elementals, and his black oil is a crippling poison that blinds, deafens and eats memories. His empire is full of prayer-slaves that give him more worship than most demons could hope to receive, though not nearly so many as even most smaller gods. He wears an acorn talisman that lets him speak to and command any animal that lives on or burrowns beneath the ground, and it cannot be stolen from him, as it will crumble and then regrow in his palace.

Octavian can do massive damage or cripple foes easily with several attack powers, can hurl people around the battlefield, and can generally boost his own actions pretty easily. He can roar so loudly it bursts hearts, move with blinding speed, and can gain Initiative by killing or intimidating powerful foes. He can harden his own skin against attacks and disarm foes, grab weapons to enter grapples as a clash, and can turn his own damage into Initiative. Further, he is super good at destroying stuff and feats of strength. Ocatvian is basically your peak for combat 2nd Circles.

Sigereth, the Player of Games, is a different kind of Second Circle Demon. She appears as simple, elegant box. Her voice echoes from within it, and she contains an endless supply of game boards, cards and game pieces, some warm and pliable like flesh, others cold and bone-hard. All are part of her and throb with her pulse. Sigereth is one of the best game players in MAlfeas, and an inveterate gambler who will bet all manner of things on any game at all. If a mortal wages their own existence in a game and loses, they will be sucked into Sigereth and turned into one of her soulless servants, her pawns, which can only be reversed by winning their freedom in another game. She requires all bets be weighed equally on both sides, and there is nothing she despises more than cheating. She cannot fight, and is usually carried by one of her pawns, who does it for her, but she is able to levitate if she chooses. She is an esoteric demon, and has only a tiny cult, largely of decadent, infernalist gamblers. She cannot be forced to accept cheating by asny means, either. She is able to enforce game rules on actual combat, which forces everyone to use War instead of their normal abilities unless they spend Initiative to "cheat." She is able to boost any battle group that obeys her orders, and can launch rainbow flames at those who cheat and do not obey her combat game. She can turn her game pieces into a battle group, too, and empower them as they defeat foes. She may also bind people to whatever agreement was made as the bet, and can facilitate the transfer of literally anything, so long as it was part of such a bet. She can't give away the things she bets - they have to be won, period, either in a game normally or as part of her enforced combat game.

Next time: The Wyld


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Fairies

Fair Folk Cataphracts are your raksha warriors. They feed on fear and courage, when they are content to eat merely emotion rather than devour full souls. Some act with honor, while others are ruthless or cruel, but all are inhumanly deadly, unnatureally strong and armed with mystic wonders of glamour and dream. They vary wildly in appearance, but those that belong to the same courts or groups tend to be similar to each other - fire-eyed riders with leonine heads, amazonian killers atop nightmare-beasts or owl-faced knights in chariots drawn by humans. Cataphracts take on the roles of hunters, tyrants, monsters or even heroes when they enter Creation, but among their own kind most serve other raksha nobles, as captains or generals over the lesser Fair Folk or as armsmasters and bodyguards. Like all raksha, they are burned terribly by iron weapons, and they do not age, eat or drink. They can heal easily, as the Exalted do, but do need to breathe and sleep, and in Creation, they must devour souls to avoid calficiation and withering to nothingness. They are able to splinter into reflections of themselves to harm multiple foes, force their enemies to confront their greatest fears or call up armies from dreams and scraps of glamour, as well as use their Willpower itself to help defend against attacks.

Fair Folk Loreleis are inhumanly beautiful raksha whose weapon is desire and longing. A rare few may get by merely feeding on the love and passion around them, but most of them crave the full taste of the human soul, slaying them with pleasure and drawing out their very being as feast. Loreleis appear differently across Creation, but all are beautiful, clad in riches and prone to enticing those they meet. Sometimes they gather in groups to better drag entire caravans or ships to their pleasant deaths, while others serve as courtiers in the raksha freeholds of the Wyld, playthings and schemers in the service of their noble masters - or commanders of their "masters" with the power of desire and pleasure. They share the raksha weaknesses of the Cataphracts, and are able to cloud the minds of others to make them not see danger and can cause obsession with a kiss. They also are unnaturally persuasive and in battle tend to rely on their ability to make people adore them, making their foes unable to harm them easily.

Hobgoblins are the swarming, twisted hounds of raksha hunters, the monsters ruled over by the more potent masters. They lurk at times in the wilds of Creation, and while their appearances vary based on where you find them, they tend to be gnarled humanoid creatures with grasping limbs and vicious teeth and claws. They can survive on the radiant energies of the Wyld, but find the fear produced by humans much better a meal. They tend to try and intimidate foes in battle to draw out that fear, playing games with their victims rather htan going for clean kills, and enjoy taking prisoners to torment in their lairs for meals of terror. They can regain Willpower by attacking those that fear them and they can draw power from the pain their foes feel, but they are as weak to iron as any of the Fair Folk.

Silverwights travel in packs on the edge of the world, appearing as shriveled, malnourished creatures with reverse-jointed limbs and vaguely c anid heads, about knee high to a grown man. Their bones, fangs and claws gleam silver, and while they hunt in packs, they are not animals. Each is nearly human in intellect, and they share a hivemind that they name the dreamweft, which shares their emotions and sensations between them, allowing for eerie, silent coordination. It is a common taboo for tribes near the Wyld to forbid pregnant women from entering the Wyld or the lands near it, as labor pains attract silverwights, who then attack and devour the mother and her companions, kidnapping the newborn child to be raised in their glass dens. The undeveloped mind of an infant can be brought into the dreamweft, which does them no lasting harm save for occasional flashes of alien emotion or abstract hallucination. The children are usually returned by night to the nearest border village or settlement, and the experiences and passions of the child as they grow feed the silverwights by flowing into the dreamweft. Silverwights grow more powerful and dangerous when around other Wyld creatures, including other silverwights, and can sense labor pains from hundreds of miles away when near the Wyld, though they will never harm a laboring mother until after she gives birth. Their small size makes them evasive, and they are very good at sharing information with each other over the dreamweft, making them hard to surprise and shockingly disciplined in battle.

Buck-Ogres are giant, two-headed monsters found in the Northeast. Each is the size of a bull, with a humanoid torso on goatlike legs and two wild bucks' heads. Their antler charge is more than powerful enough to defeat a mammoth, but they tend to prefer relying on their weapons - axes, hammers, spears. They aren't stupid, and may well turn to raiding human settlements for metal or sophisticated goods that they cannot themselves produce, or for food when they cannot find any, but they usually avoid needless aggression and battle unless forced into it by a raksha master. They can spend Willpower to attack more than once and their antlers deal terrible damage to slower foes. They also are large enough to wield two-handed wepaons in a single hand, and their two heads make them very perceptive.

Manticores are found in the South. The nomads of the South know that you must always thoroughly and quiockly destroy the bodies of those slain by a scorpion's sting, and even the hero Ghufran ordered his companions to eat him, for their own safety, when he lay dying of a scorpion sting. This is because when a lion eats the corpse of someone slain by a scorpion, the Wyld sometimes transforms the lion into a manticore, which has the lion's body and the head of the devoured mortal along with a scorpion tail. Manticores hunt alone and from ambush, with no fear of any being, and their venom is deadly enough to kill an elephant in seconds. Only magic can save those they poison, and when cornered, the only hope most mortals have is to be a clever enough speaker to converse with the manticore, which is as bright as the mortal devoured by the lion.

Next time: Exalts

Less Specific Cool Stuff, More General Stuff

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Less Specific Cool Stuff, More General Stuff

Exalts are basically just people and Eclipses can't learn their powers. So isntead, they just provide general rules for how much Essence various Exalts should have, the Excellencies they have available and their theming for Charms. Dragon-Blooded are the most numerous Exalts, but have less power than Celestials. One innate benefit they've got, however is anima flux. A Dragon-Blood's anima is an aura of elemental power, and that power can destroy people and scenery around them in combat. In the core, what this means is that when a Dragon0Blood is at Bonfire level of anima, they do one die of withering damage to all non-Dragon-Bloods at Close Range, or Lethal damage to Crashed foes. Anyone with any Hardness ignores anima flux. We get some statblocks for Dragon-Bloods ranging from Essence 1 to 3, but I'm just going to elide over them because they've largely been obsoleted by the DBs book, which provides more useful Quick Character example characters and also updated rules for DBs in general.

Luanrs are "the dread warlords of howling barbarian armies, skinwalkers who dance through forms of man and beast alike, and mystics versed in the secret lore of night." They're closer to Solars in raw power level, especially because when stunting, their Excellencies go from using a single attribute to two attributes as their limit. Or will, when the book gets done - that much was known even from the core, and remains true. The barbarian bit, less so. Lunars can shapeshift into various human and animal forms indefinitely, and being in animal form lets them use an animal's dicepools and special traits, but not their latent or magical abilities barring Charms. Again, still broadly true. Spotting a shapeshiofted Lunar is a very difficult roll to see through disguise, and you can't even try it unless you are aware of the Lunar's unique Tell. This, also called the Mark of Luna, is a feature of the Lunar's human form that is somehow mystical or bestial, such as a musky smell, wolf eyes, fangs or silver hair, which appears in any form they take, no matter what, although it may be diminished in other forms.

Sidereals are the most limited by their Excellencies - they can only add dice based on their Essence. However, unlike everoyne else, they can reduce their roll TNs to make successes significantly more likely Also, they have an easier time raising static values. Sidereals also suffer from Arcane Fate Essentially, after a Sidereal has left, everyone starts to forget they ever existed at all. It is possible for them to use certain astrological magics to disguise themselves in false destinies made from stock archetypes, to appear as things like 'that handsome soldier' or 'the friendly town drunk,' and these figures can be remembered - it's the Sidereal's true self and nature that isn't.

Abyssals are death-flavored Solars and have death-flavored Solar-level power. When in Creation, we are told, they take a significant penalty to any actions taken under the light of day, unless they wear the "morbid trappings of death" or use dark magic to avoid such penalties. And this is why all Abyssals dress really gothy, using funerary wear, ceremonial funeral gear or armor decoared with bones, spiders and other morbid stuff. They get even fewer details than the other QC Exalts.

Liminals seach for identity and hunt the undead. Their bodies are patchwork, made from corpses, and...and they're Prometheans. They have somewhat limited use of Excellencies, but gain more out of them when their anima banner is shining bright enough to reveal their horrific, corpse-like nature. Their bodies are able to recover from crippling wound easier than other Exalts - they just have to find a suitable corpse to harvest a limb from and graft it on. Even death is something they can recover from, as their bodies reignite with Essence and rise again in a few days, though it may take them days or weeks to repair the damage. The only way to kill them for sure is to either drown them or destroy their brains, which even most Liminals don't know.

Exigents are all unique. The one we get presented is Revana Quin, Architect of Wu-Jian, Chosen of the city father of Wu-Jian, a massive Western city full of crime. She was the daughter of a smuggler and pirate, and she inherited her mother's cunning and bravado, but with greater perspective. This is what drew the city's god to her, seeking a champion that could protect it from outsiders and internal collapse. She accepted the offer, and in that instant, she was given a vision of the heavenly city Yu-Shan. Now, she does her best to keep the peace in Wu-Jian. She's about on par with a Terrestrial Exalt most of the time, but can increase her power by using the environment to her benefit inside a city. She can make her fists as hard as brick and wield random objects as if they were artifact weapons, draw defensive power from city architecture, make herself more attractive and seductive, or read the intentions of people by observing their homes and hangouts. She can also easily disguise herself in a crowd, open any door in a city she communes with or detect crimes and evil plans by studying urban environments.

Next time: Animals

The Secret Power of Bears

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: The Secret Power of Bears

Animals are not actually harmless in this edition – at least, some of them. They have a number of special attacks and abilities, plus more on top of that which can be unlocked by training, to make having familiars worthwhile. Non-magical traits unlocked by training are called Latent Abilities. You need Survival 3, a Specialty in animal husbandry and another Specialty specific to the animal to unlock an animal’s Latent Abilities, and doing so is an extended Survival roll over several months, during which you must interact with the animal daily. Charms can also unlock Magical Abilities, which are called forth only in familiars – even Lunars don’t get them when they become an animal that has them, that’s your special familiar mojo.

Common Latent Abilities, which apply to many animals, are not listed in animal statblocks. Rather, they can be assumed to be on any animal that fits their criteria.
Alighting Hunter’s Ascent: Any flying animal small enough to perch on a shoulder or gloved hand. They get +1 success to Join Battle when beginning combat with their master, and reflexively rise to Medium range from the ground when they Join Battle.
Crushing Embrace: Any large predator that relies on clinching. They can make a Decisive savaging attack while grappling once per scene that does extra damage, ignores Hardness and doesn’t reset their Initiative.
Fling Aside: Any large predator that relies on grappling. They can make smashing attacks with their claws or similar natural weapons and may throw grappled enemies out to Short range.
Gambits: Any animal. Animals can be trained to Disarm, Distract or Unhorse, though each gambit requires separate training. Once per scene, they can spend Willpower to double 10s on the Initiative roll for the gambit and pay no Initiative cost if it succeeds.
Peck Out the Eyes: Any bird of prey or large ground bird. They can forgo one level of damage on a Decisive attack to blind the foe for the scene – or permanently, for trivial foes.
Predator’s Menace: Any animal with an Intimidate dicepool. Once per scene, they can cause anyone they Intimidate to lose Initiative, even if they spend Willpower to resist the intimidation.
Tighten Clutches: Any animal that relies on clinching. They can spend 1 Willpower to avoid losing rounds of control when attacked while grappling for one round, though they still lose rounds of control from being damaged.
Wing-Rushing Strike: Any flying predator. They can add extra successes on a Rush that brings them into Close range of a foe to the raw damage of their first Withering attack on that foe after the Rush.

As for common Magical Abilities – note, costs are paid by the familiar’s master:
Devouring Leviathan Maw (10m): Any gigantic megafauna or apex predators. They can make a Decisive bite unblockable and double 10s on damage, and also force a Crippling injury if they do enough damage or else the target is swallowed whole and dies.
Earth-Shaking Behemoth (4m): Any animal with a stomp attack or similar. They can make a shockwave with a Decisive attack, forcing anyone in Medium range to have to make an Athletics roll or become prone.
Invincible God-Beast Hide (12m): Any animal with great endurance or an armored body. They can reduce Decisive attack damage based on their soak, and gain Initiative if they are unhurt after.
Legendary Titan Prana (7m): Any huge animal. They get +3 Strength and double 8s for purposes of feats of strength to smash through stuff.
Primeval Vitality Lifeblood: Any resilient or hardy animal. They get the benefits of the Solar Charm Immunity to Everything Technique, except they can’t resist incurable diseases.
Midnight Claw Prana (3m): Any stealthy hunter. They can double 10s on damage of a Decisive surprise attack, and the master can transfer Initiative to the animal before it attacks.
Raging Devil-Beast Empowerment (5m): Any strong or powerful predator. They get double 9s for feats of strength and initiating grapples for the scene, and may grapple creatures with Legendary Size.
Throat-Ripping Execution (3m): Any predator that relies on clinching. They can add their rounds of control to the damage of a Decisive savaging attack and ignore Hardness with it once per scene, reset by Crashing a grappled foe.
Unerring God-Hound Scent (5m): Any animal with the Keen Nose merit. They get 3 successes on 10s for a Perception-based roll and reroll 1s out until they stop appearing, and may oppose even perfect track-covering magic.

Specific animals! Angler-Lizards are twenty-foot long lizards, about half of which is neck. They’re found along the rivers of the East and the shores of the West, using their long necks to hunt fish and other swimming things, steadied by strong hind legs and large butts. Their butt meat is a particular delicacy of the Serpoletic merchants and Vanehan princes. While they appear frightening, they are meek creatures, sometimes domesticated by islander or riverside peoples to help hunt fish. They’re not especially tough, but they are able to shed their tail to distract predators and withdraw from battle faster; it takes around a season to regrow, without magic. They are also able to make bites and grapples out to Short range, due to their long necks, which they mostly use to drag prey onto land. They are able to see clearly into water from the shore and can be trained as lookouts against underwater foes, screeching an agitated warning when they spot such dangers.

Armored Terrors are gigantic fish found through the West and even in the waters around the Blessed Isle. They can be over 30 feet long and four tons in weight, and while they primarily hunt smaller coastal fish, they’re plenty dangerous to fishing boats and shoreline peoples. Their scales are thicker than even steel armor, and their bony, beaklike fangs are strong enough to sever limbs easily. They are extremely tough, ferocious predators that will only flee when facing larger foes like a siaka or giant squid. Their Withering bites ignore a chunk of armor due to their ability to tear through shells and steel, and they are able to cause a brief whirlpool by snapping their mouth open quickly, drawing in foes. They can be trained to ram ships, as well, allowing them to tear through hulls with the same power as the Charm Sledgehammer Fist Attack, and familiars can learn the ability to cancel out non-permanent enemy Charms and other magic that grants soak or damage resistance, as long as they can do enough damage. Their armored skin is very strong, they have Legendary Size, and familiars can gain the magical ability to strengthen their bony shells significantly at the cost of their Initiative. (Yes, it is a giant coelacanth, and it is one of the scariest fish.)

Bears can be found just about anywhere – grizzlies in the East, white bears in the North and Northwest, even the Blessed Isle (though they tend to be smaller and sometimes hunted for sport by Dynasts). Even small bears are dangerous, and they are more than happy to grab and crush foes in a bone-breaking embrace while tearing at them with deadly fangs. Bears can forgo Initiative gain on a good enough Withering attack with their claws to reflexively grapple foes for free, and can do extra damage when using their bite to make Decisive savaging attacks while grappling. A bear can be trained to also use its terrifying bite against any Crashed foe, rather than just the ones it grapples. Bears are fairly tough, though if they take enough damage, they’ll flee unless protecting their young. They get their wound penalties as bonuses to attacks, and when using Defend Other on their young, they get bonuses, which they can be trained to also get when defending their master. They also have a keen nose, making them good at scent-based Perception rolls.

Benthic Knifetooths are immense, 20-foot-long serpentine sharks that eat…well, just about anything. Their name is due to their unique teeth, each of which has a number of recurved hooks that snag in the flesh of their prey to prevent escape. Knifetooths hunt by night, and sailors are usually terrified of their large, distinctive gill-frills, which can be seen as they swim alongside ships. They mostly dwell in the deep Western oceans, but competition, curiosity or divine curses can lead them up to the surface to attack ships. They are very tough, but doing enough damage will send them fleeing. Due to their special teeth, they, like bears, can forgo Initiative on a Withering bite attack to reflexively grapple foes. They tend to swim around with their mouths open, camouflaging their teeth against their mouth flesh to fool prey into attacking them first, allowing them to clash the first attack a foe makes against them with a terrifying bite. They are very hard to notice when in the deeps of the waters below you, making them significantly stealthier than a giant eel-shark should be, and can see clearly in darkness. They also do not truly sleep, instead entering a sort of rest phase in which they remain conscious and mobile but can’t attack or do anything significant. Spending eight hours in this state is equivalent to a night’s sleep for them.

Next time: Boar-Tusk Crocodiles, Bunyips, Cats, Claw Striders, Death Moas, Dogs, Eagles

Animal Planet

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Animal Planet

Boar-Tusk Crocodiles resemble an aquatic crocodile, but they are strictly land-based, found in the plains of the South and Southeast. They are apex predators that will eat just about anything they can catch, including lions and claw striders. They get their name from three elongated fangs, which are able to bite through even the toughest scales or hide. They are often twenty feet long and weigh over a ton, and they are deceptively ungainly and stumpy, yet capable of sudden bursts of speed that catch others off guard, allowing the crocodiles to ram with their bony snouts. They are quite tough and won’t flee until very hurt. Their Withering bites ignore some armor, and they do extra Decisive damage to prone foes due to their specializing in ramming foes to the ground and then eating them. On any turn when they reach Close range of a foe, they can make a smashing attack without the usual costs of doing so, as well. They can be trained not to kill downed foes, instead spending Willpower to reflexively grapple people they knock down by climbing on top of them, slowly crushing them. They have exceptionally sharp sight, gaining a bonus to sight-based Perception rolls, and their jaws are very good at breaking stuff.

Bunyips are giant marsupials found in the Eastern grasslands and Western islands. They’re like a rhinoceros, but with a bear’s snout and grinding teeth for digging up roots. The biggest are ten feet long and six tall, weighing up to three tons. They usually travel in family groups of females, children and one larger bull. Lesser males live on their own. Hunters target bunyips with projectiles to remain out of their reach, as their powerful skulls are very nasty weapons. Bunyip teeth are prized as hunting trophies and talismans of victory. A bunyip is exceptionally tough, but flees after taking a good bit of damage, and females will usually retreat the moment danger appears if they have young in their pouches. A bunyip that deals enough damage with a Decisive headbutt also knocks the target to Short range and sends them prone, which delays their action and can, if they are slow enough, cancel it entirely. This is especially dangerous if the bunyip Rushed in the same turn as the attack. Bunyips have a keen nose and get a bonus to scent-based Perception rolls, and anything hiding in their pouch, such as their babies, automatically benefits from their Defend Other, though it takes training to get them to let you into their pouch and they can only hold something about the size of a small, unencumbered person in there. Bunyips are exceptionally sturdy creatures, and so they cannot be knocked back or sent prone except by magic or creatures with Legendary Size, and cannot be thrown or slammed while grappled except with magic or if grappled by something of great size.

Cats covers both housecats and small predatory wild cats, such as…wildcats or jaguarundis. Cats are not tough at all, and domestic cats will flee after any damage, while wild cats will fight a little more than that. Cats get a bonus to attacks from stealth and to damage on Decisive savaging attacks, as they bat at foes and break necks. They can also reflexively clinch foes their own size or smaller by spending Willpower if they move into Close range and make a good enough Withering attack. They can be trained to deal pretty nasty damage to bigger foes, though they can’t grapple them, and can be trained to get underfoot, so that all attacks against larger foes count as being made from stealth for its special bonuses. This can make them pretty dangerous as pets, as long as you have someone to keep them from getting instantly stomped by a nasty attack. They have excellent hearing, getting a bonus to hearing-based Perception checks, get a bonus to all checks to keep their balance and reduce falling damage, can see well in darkness and are Tiny Creatures, which gives +2 Evasion against larger foes and makes it harder to notice them if you’re bigger than they are.

Claw Striders are reptilian pack hunters of the plains and savannas, about the size of a man and armed with powerful foot-claws that can tear out a throat in one slash. They run down their prey to exhaustion to weaken them or wait in ambush at oases. By working together, they are even able to take down elephants, yeddim and the occasional tyrant lizard. They are quite clever and capable of coordinated pack tactics, and some desert tribes tame them as powerful (if bad-tempered) mounts. They’re pretty tough but don’t like to stick around if they get hurt. They get bonuses to attack from stealth, are innately capable of using the Distract gambit to help their packmates (and can be trained to use it to help a master), and are more accurate and damaging the more claw striders there are nearby, as they assist each other on the attack. They can be trained to use this in conjunction with their master and their master’s allies. They can also spend Willpower to reflexively attack foes that try to flee them when they Rush, are very good at Rushes in general and have excellent vision, getting a bonus on all vision-based Perception rolls.

Death Moas are large, carnivorous land birds of the islands of the West, much larger than a man or horse. Their beaks can tear through bone easily, making them apex predators wherever they show up. Their tactics are pretty simple – chase down prey and beat them death. They are very tough, and they won’t flee until quite hurt – and even then, they may stay if they’re defending a kill. Their Decisive attacks are quite powerful if they’ve built up Initiative, especially against Crashed foes, as are their Rushes. They can attack out to Short range easily, as well. A death moa familiar can learn a power that lets them treat everyone as in Crash when they get an Initiative Break, too. They have excellent vision and get a bonus to all vision-based Perception rolls.

Dogs and Wolves use the same statblock, and are common across Creation as hunting beasts, war animals, guards, pets and wild predators. (Obviously, these stats are for a big, combat-capable dog.) Dogs are about average toughness, but will flee quickly when injured unless defending a master or commanded to stay by one. Wolves will flee if moderately damaged. Dogs and wolves are both able to prevent foes from disengaging with their Withering attacks, get bonuses for fighting alongside packmates (which they can be trained to treat human allies as) and can be trained to reflexively grapple foes they manage to harry and keep in place. They can also be trained to counterattack people who attack their master while defending their master, and can use this to distract or disarm foes. A familiar can also learn how to magically bite super hard when attacking people that harmed their master. Dogs and wolves have excellent senses of smell and get a bonus to scent-based Perception rolls, and they can be trained to track specific types of scent, such as human scents from clothes, drugs, the undead or so on, to become even better at tracking that kind of thing. They can be trained to be able to defend people while also attacking, or to be good at noticing ambushes. A familiar can even be taught how to magically force people to strike them over their master when defending a master, and cannot easily be killed while doing so.

Eagles are…eagles. They are aerial predators that feed on stuff like small dogs and rabbits, killing with a talon strike or by dropping prey from heights. In the West and Northeast, common tales tell of them attacking children or horses, but most people elsewhere don’t believe it. Eagles are common on the Blessed Isle, the West and the North, and can also be found in the East, but there they must compete with mospids and striges, so they aren’t as numerous. Eagles can perform a death dive, allowing them to make really nasty decisive attacks by charging foes from above, and get even more powerful when doing so from stealth. A familiar can learn to strengthen themselves, allowing them to better control clinches and letting them grapple human-sized foes, or grab weapons and drop them on people, which is inaccurate but powerful. Eagles have a huge bonus to vision-based Perception while flying high in the air, are good at tracking people from the air and can Rush large vertical distances.

Next time: Emperor Sloths, Gorillas, Great Cats, Hellboars, Horses, Ox-Dragons, Pestletails

Animal Universe

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Exalted 3rd Edition: Animal Universe

Emperor Sloths are ground sloths the size of elephants, feared for their power. They eat a mix of leaves and scavenged carrion meat, and their immense strength and large claws mean they can, if they feel like it, kill and eat fresh meat, usually deer, cattle or humans. They are extremely tough, but they’re not very brave and will flee quickly if hurt, unless they’ve turned carnivore, in which case they take a bit more work to force into running away. While emperor sloths are quite slow, they grow more and more damaging as a fight goes on. A familiar can be trained so that the first time it gets Crashed in a fight, it can instead go into a frenzied magical rampage that cancels its normal slowness. They have excellent noses and get a bonus to smell-based Perception rolls, are Legendary Size, and can see well in the dark.

Gorillas are found throughout the mountains of the Northeast, the Eastern lowlands and the Blessed Isle. They are found in groups led by the oldest male, the silverback. While gorillas are normally peaceful herbivores, a silverback will respond to perceived threats with attempts to intimidate via howling and chest-beating, attacking if they see weakness. Humans in gorilla territory are often killed because they try to flee from the silverback, but a display of force can make them back down and cause acceptance by the gorilla troop. Many legends exist of children raised by gentle, intelligent gorillas. Gorillas, while tough, will usually flee if wounded – except the silverback, who will die to defend the rest as they flee. Gorillas get a bonus to attacks and damage against Crashed foes and can use their intimidaton dicepool to Join Battle. They can also act before anyone they scare that way, even if their Initiative is lower. Gorillas do bonus damage against grappled foes and can be trained to be better wrestlers and grapplers in general. They can also be trained to wield weapons, as long as they don’t require much finesse, and their sense of smell is excellent.

Great Cats are common in the North, East and South in various forms. They tend to be ambush predators that avoid human settlements except when forced near by hunger or divine curses. They’re fairly tough and take a decent amount of damage before they’ll run away. They get bonuses to attack from stealth and can grapple smaller foes easily, much like smaller cats. They’re just bigger. They’re also good at moving while stealthed, especially in their native environment. They have excellent noses and hearing, and they can be trained for battle, which makes them better at dodging slower or ranged foes.

Hellboars are some of the most feared animals in the East or Blessed Isle. They are omnivores able to crack bones with their jaws. Their bite tears ligaments, allowing them to stomp their foes to death before they devour them. Few hunters are fool enough to try and take a hellboar, except perhaps some Dynasts. Hunters will sometimes follow in their wake, however, waiting for the boar to eat its fill and scavenging from what remains. Hellboars are very tough, but will usually wander off if hurt decently. Their Decisive bites cause Crippling penalties to physical action, and their stomps do massive damage to prone foes. They can send people prone by charging them, too, and can be trained to target their bites for maximum crippling by trying to break the spinal cord. Their wound penalties are actually a bonus to attacks, and they can eat just about anything without getting sick. Their noses are excellent, and they get much faster if they haven’t eaten recently and think they can eat their foe. They can be trained to associate battle with feasting, allowing them to be fast all the time.

Horses are high-strung but fast and graceful. They’re easily stressed out and will die if pushed too hard, but they’re fairly clever animals with good senses. Domesticated horses are raised from birth to serve humans in various capacities and come in many breeds, ranging from 5 to 6 feet tall and ranging from half a ton to a little more than a ton in weight. Their hooves are shod with leather, bronze or iron to prevent damage, and they need lots of grooming and exercise. Feral or wild horses and similar equines, like zebras, move in either small or large herds, and they tend to be smaller and lighter than domesticated horses. Breaking them to the saddle isn’t easy, but it’s doable. While horses are decently tough, they tend to flee easily. Their kicks are able to send people flying and knock them prone if they hit hard enough, and horses are very good at disengaging or withdrawing from battle. They can be trained to also get a bonus to Rushes.

Ox-Dragons are gigantic quadrupedal lizards, over 12 tons and 30 feet long. They have two long horns and a bony skull frill, which makes them more than a match for most predators. They are ill-tempered beasts, easily provoked, and their main feeding method is to push trees over and strip them of bark and leaves with their powerful beaks. Like boars, however, they are omnivorous and will happily eat carrion or attack smaller animals if hungry. They are exceptionally tough and brave but will not fight to the death except in defense of their young. Their charges are extremely deadly, as they build speed and momentum over distance and then unleash it for massive Decisive damage. Their horns deal extra damage against slower foes, and they are also able to knock enemies over with their stomps. They can be taught to reflexively grapple and slam foes they catch on their horns, too. They have Legendary Size, too. They’re just nasty to fight.

Pestletails are hard-shelled herbivores of the East and Northeast. They are ten feet long and weigh up to two tons, with a turtle-like shell covered in bony, armadillo-like plates. Their head and tail are also plated. They’re mostly inoffensive creatures that eat foliage, shrubs and small trees, and most predators leave them alone, as their shells are hard to pierce and they’re more than happy to fight back with their clawed limbs and beaked snouts. Human hunters like them, though, as their shells are valuable for making waterproof shelters when hollowed out. Pestletails are remarkably tough and take a middling amount of damage before trying to flee. They can be taught to stomp with their claws to do extra damage to prone foes or to use their hammer-like tails to send foes flying on par with the Charm Heaven Thunder Hammer. They can withdraw into their shells to go on full defensive easily, making them very hard to hurt, and their armored shell reduces damage even when they don’t. They are nearly impossible to knock back, throw or knock down except with magic or really big creatures, and they can be trained to position themselves so that they gain Initiative when attacks bounce off them.

Next time: Quoll-Lions, Raitons, River Dragons, Siege Lizards, Tyrant Lizards, Venomous Snakes and Yeddim

The Unstoppable Giant Yak

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Exalted 3rd Edition: The Unstoppable Giant Yak

Quoll-Lions are vaguely feline, stocky, bear-like critters a bit bigger than a jaguar, but much deadlier. It has jaws on par with a lion, can stand on its hind legs and has massive forelimbs tipped in immense, retractable claws. They hunt by night in the East, certain Western islands and the jungles of the Caul, using their striped fur to blend with the shadowed trees. They spend much of their time in the trees, well above ground, and leap from them to land on prey from above, dragging their kills into the branches to feast. They’re pretty tough but will flee if a middling amount of damage is dealt to them. They are ambush hunters, with a bonus to attack from stealth, and especially prefer to attack by falling out of trees onto people, from which they take no falling damage. Such attacks usually stun everyone that witnesses them, delaying their actions. They are excellent climbers when in trees or other foliage, get a bonus to stealth while in trees, and have excellent noses. They are also marsupials, which allows their kits to be protected in their pouch, but they can’t really carry anything larger than a housecat that way, so it’s not much good to anyone else, though you could train them to accept other ‘passengers’ of that size.

Raitons are kind of like ravens, but they’re not birds. They’re black-feathered reptiles with clawed wings and sharp teeth, instead. They hunt rodents and other small animals, eat fruits and seeds, and scavenge dead meat wherever they can. Flocks of them can be found around battlefields and slaughterhouses, driving off other carrion-eaters with vicious attacks. This has made the raiton an ill omen, a symbol across Creation of future strife or death. They’re very weak and scatter if so much as approached, even if they aren’t hurt. They are excellent at tracking down dead flesh, however, and at spotting if carrion will make them sick. They are also Tiny Creatures, so they’re pretty dodgy and sneaky.

River Dragons are a ferocious beast found in the river mouths and freshwater bays of the East and Southwest, thirty feet long and with hundreds of teeth. They eat large fish, seals and small whales that get trapped in fresh water, but they’re also happy to lurk just off shore and grab any animal that stops by. Once they have caught a victim, they twist around until they break their prey’s limbs and spine. Humans avoid them whenever possible, and the rumors of a river dragon can make a bay deserted. This doesn’t stop them from occasionally attacking and capsizing fishing boats, though. They’re exceptionally tough and take a lot of damage before they’ll flee, and will absolutely not let go of anything they’ve latched onto if they can avoid it. They are excellent at “grappling” by just latching down on someone, and once they’ve grappled, they can perform a death roll as a Decisive savaging attack that deals massive damage and always causes a Crippling injury. They are also able to Rush out to Medium range on land from underwater, can hold its breath for an entire scene, has an excellent sense of smell, and is Legendary Size. It also has good night vision and a bonus to stealth while underwater. Giant crocodiles are nasty.

Siege Lizards are immense reptiles found in forests ranging from the East to the Cinder Isles. While herbivorous, their tails are tipped in three-foot spines, and their spine has a ridge of interlocking armor plates in a distinctive kite shape, making them impressive and terrifying. They are rare, found in small herds that graze on ferns and low vegetation. Few animals are powerful or big enough to prey on them, and humans often view them with awe. Several remote tribes take them as a totem beast or attempt ritualized hunts in an effort to gain their strength. Siege lizards are stupid, stubborn and extremely independent, so they’re nearly impossible to tame, and most who try to use them for war end up trampled by them. They are extremely tough, but will flee if hurt badly, even if protecting their own young. Their stomps deal extra damage to prone foes, and they can go into full defense to make a Decisive counterattack against nearby foes, especially if they’re airborne or climbing the siege lizard. Their tail slams at high Initiative can send people flying as per the Charm Heaven Thunder Hammer, and they can knock people over with their charges and stomps. Their armor is very tough to get through, and their nose is excellent. They have Legendary Size, and they can’t be knocked back or sent prone except by magic or creatures of equal or greater size.

Tyrant Lizards are rare, but found in jungles and grasslands across Creation – and feared. The mere rumor that one is nearby can panic entire villages, who will flee alongside flocks of birds and stampedes of beasts to get away from the tyrant’s approach. They are huge, fast and ravenously hungry, but too dumb to fear anything but fire – not that they’ve much need for fear anyway, given their might. They have two powerful hind legs to run with, using their clawed forelimbs, heavy tails and massive teeth to hunt anything nearby. They are solitary creatures, and they are happy to eat literally anything. The stomachs of tyrant lizards dead to old age or great heroes have been found to contain anything from river dragons to elephants to daiklaves. They are extremely tough and won’t flee unless they take a real beating, and even then, if cornered or defending their young, they’ll keep fighting. They can reflexively grapple anyone they knock over by standing on them and stomping, or they can viciously fling anyone they’ve grappled with a bite, mixing a Decisive savaging attack with a followup throw or slam. Their bites deal immense damage to slower foes and they’re extremely good at rushing and attacking those in Crash. Further, they can reflexively drag any smaller foe they have grappled with their jaws, just kind of picking them up and carrying them around. They only lose rounds of control in a grapple from being attacked if they get damaged by the attack. They can be trained to make a terrifying roar to intimidate foes and force them to flee in terror, or to use their bite to decimate entire battle groups and make them break and run. They regain Willpower by killing or Crashing non-trivial foes and are immune to non-magical fear and intimidation. They are extremely good at feats of strength, have Legendary Size, are extremely skilled scent trackers and ignore wound penalties to Defense. They’re also very hard to hurt from range due to their thick scales and large body making their vitals hard to hit.

Venomous Snakes come in thousands of varieties across creation, from cobras and asps in the South to rattlesnakes and coral snakes in the East to sea snakes in the West to adders in the North. They tend not to be very large and to eat small animals, but if startled or provoked, their bites can be very dangerous. They’re weak and pretty cowardly, fleeing if they take any damage. They’re also quite sneaky in their natural environments, have excellent senses of smell and are Tiny Creatures.

Yeddim are giant, shaggy idiots. They are widely domesticated as beasts of burden as a result. They’re eighteen feet tall, weigh upwards of fifteen tons, and can last for a very, very long time on relatively little food or water. They don’t tire easily, making them ideal for long-distance caravans hauling lots of goods. Wild yeddim are usually found on savannas, grazing cheerfully, and are no less stoic or calm than their tame cousins. The main difference is that the lineage of tame yeddim has been bred to smell less bad. Yeddim are exceptionally tough, but it only takes a few wounds before they decide to go elsewhere, unless their young are threatened or they haven’t figured out where the damage is coming from yet. They’re really good at hauling loads and being strong, and they can last for a week without food before they start to get deprivation penalties, and eight weeks without food before they starve to death. They can also last a full week without water before they die of dehydration, and they’re highly resistant to poison and disease. While they are usually too dumb and slow for their Defend Other to be very useful, they are very protective of their young and are able to let their children benefit from their own toughness when defending them; they can be trained to do the same to their master. They have Legendary Size, so their defenses are pretty hefty, which makes it worth doing, even if they’re slow as hell.

Next time: Equipment

Shit You Own

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Exalted 3rd Edition: Shit You Own

Every item is assigned a Resources value, which is how many dots you need to view that purchase as a significant but non-ruinous expense. The game talks about how some things are based on monthly or yearly income depending on how often you might buy them, or even income for a decade for purchases like…a house or a ship, but frankly, no one cares. No one cares about this or the loans or credit. The main thing to note is that your Resources aren’t a hard cap on what you can get – just what you can get without eating into important life funds. Also, you might own stuff that doesn’t “fit” your Resources if it makes sense – an ex-soldier may be poor, but they probably still own their arms and armor, or you might’ve won your ship in a bet but have no reliable income. You have what’s appropriate for your concept, within reason. In theory, about half of a character’s income goes to cost of living – food, clothes, home décor, basic stuff to make sure people respect you. If you spend less than that, you’re seen as stingy or miserly.

So what kind of weird bullshit can you buy? Well, the game lists a few weird magic things you might get:
Age-Staving Cordial (Resources 5) is made from the sap of a rare Far Eastern vine and the poison of specific Southwestern clam species. It is a drug sold as a red powder that, when mixed with water or wine, makes an age-slowing brew. Anyone that takes weekly doses of Age-Staving Cordial will live an average of 25% longer than a comparable person who doesn’t. Other anagathics exist, but are similarly expensive, difficult to get and effective.
Ghost Flower Tea (Resources 3) is a rare drug made from the dried petals of the ghost flower, a luminous palm-sized flower grown only in temperate Eastern shadowlands. The tea glows faintly and is drunk just before sleep. The first few uses cause the drinker to see and be able to speak with any ghosts nearby. Continued use develops a resistance, allowing you to remain awake while under its influence and communicate with the dead outside your dreams. Taking even more than that in a single season lets you physically touch and be touched by ghosts. However, frequent use makes you pale and sickly, with faintly glowing lips. Ghosts may also take ghost flower tea, allowing them to communicate with the living in a similar manner. Anyone that dies while taking ghost flower tea will rise as a ghost.
Maiden Tea (Resources 2-5) is a common term for a wide variety of drugs which render a woman infertile for roughly a month or a man infertile for a variable period ranging from a day to a week depending on the brew. One dose is enough to be usable as a contraceptive for however long that particular brew lasts for. Three or more doses at once will make you mildly ill, causing minor Bashing damage and a penalty to all rolls until it heals, but will induce a miscarriage. An overdose of six or more doses at once will make you violently ill, doing slightly more Bashing damage and increasing difficulties until that heals, but renders you permanently sterile. Cheaper tea is widely available and usually easy to prepare, but is more variable in how well it works. The best (and most expensive) form involves venomous Western clams. And yes, this has been in every edition of Exalted since the start.
Talismans (Resources 1-4) are mystic charms. Some occur naturally, and many are fakes, but thaumaturgists are able to produce them. They have minor but useful benefits. A disease talisman will give a minor bonus to rolls to resist disease, a lucky charm will prevent a single botch per story, and a ward against something like Fair Folk or demons will cause the warded type of beings to have a minor penalty when trying to affect the bearer for a few rolls per scene. The more expensive talismans typically work better. Talismans with more potent bonuses do exist, but they are very rare and hard to make.

Weapons! There are only a few weapon statblocks – Light, Medium and Heavy, for melee. What differentiates individual weapons are their tags. These are stuff like Balanced (+1 Overwhelming, which means greater minimum damage), Flexible (ignores the bonus to Defense from Full Defense), Improvised (costs 1 Initiative to use in an attack), Piercing (can use piercing attacks, which lower your Defense and cost 1 Initiative but let you ignore some armor soak), Reaching (negates the advantages of being mounted), Shield (lets you use Full Defense in a flurry, as long as the flurry doesn’t have an attack in it, but -2 damage) or Smashing (can make smashing attacks, which lower your Defense and cost 2 Initiative but cause knockback or knockdown). You can dual wield as long as neither weapon requires two hands; if your weapons in each hand are different, all the benefits you get are you can choose which weapon’s stats to use for a given attack or parry. Dual wielding two identical weapons gives +2 to Clash attacks, which is also what the Two-Handed tag gives. Unarmed, incidentally, is considered a single light weapon; you can’t dual-wield being unarmed. Ranged weapons differ slightly – they still are Light, Medium or Heavy, but the stats differ and you can’t parry with them. Thrown weapons have worse range but are usually easier to conceal or get ammo for. Archery weapons have better range, but tend to be less subtle or, in the case of flamepieces or crossbows, be slower to reload and not able to apply Strength bonuses to damage. Also, ammunition is generally more expensive or harder to get.

You can make your weapons out of special materials, which adds 1 to their Resources cost in regions where the material is found, or 2 elsewhere. Materials listed:
Chiaroscuro Glass, which is extremely durable, nearly indestructible. It dates back to the First Age, and weapons and armor made from it require pretty much no upkeep. Not that upkeep has any mechanics.
Feathersteel is an extremely light metal found in the far North, particularly around the Haslanti League. It doesn’t rust, and neither do weapons made from it. They’re also slightly lighter than normal. No mechancis for that. Armor made from it gains the Silent tag.
Ironwood is wood treated with rare Eastern technique, found mostly near Halta, that makes it hard as steel. Ironwood gear requires as much maintenance as normal, but it’s made of wood. Ironwood armor also gains the Bouyant tag. In areas where it’s made, ironwood has no increased cost. Elsewhere, it is only +1 Resources.

Armor likewise is Light, Medium or Heavy if you’re wearing it. Lighter gives less soak but also less mobility penalty. Mundane armor doesn’t give Hardness, which is that stat used for straight up preventing decisive damage that isn’t high enough. Armor takes a few minutes to put on or take off, though I’ve rarely seen this rule actually used. And yes, it has tags. Stuff like Concealable (you can hide it under clothes) or Bouyant (its mobility penalty doesn’t apply while swimming) or Silent (its mobility penalty doesn’t apply to sneaking).

Next time: Artifacts.

Magical Shit You Own

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Exalted 3rd Edition: Magical Shit You Own

Artifacts are, of course, your rare and potent magical wonders, charged with Essence and far better than mundane equivalents. Artifact weapons and armor are like mundane ones, but…better. They have the same Light/Medium/Heavy split, but the stats of each one are better than the comparable mundane equivalent. The downside? You have to attune motes of Essence to your artifacts, tying them up essentially permanently. Without attuning to an Artifact, you get significant penalties to using it and lose Initiative whenever you use it to attack or parry. Don’t do that! It’s dumb! The reasoning: artifact weapons and armor are stupidly heavy and huge. Daiklaves are unwieldy surfboards of swords made of magical supergold or whatever. Artifact armor is insanely heavy. Attuning to them, however, makes a spiritual link that allows you to handle them as if they were nearly weightless. Attunement lasts until you end it or you go a full day without any contact with your Artifact.

Most artifact weapons and armor will be Artifact 3 at the minimum. But Artifact 2 objects do exist! These are minor wonders, the most common Artifacts in theory (and in play, the least, because they’re much less useful – they have only minor effects and no Evocations). What are they?
Collar of Dawn’s Cleansing Light: A torc or collar or necklace that ensures that no matter what happens, its wearer is clean and presentable, period. It negates all penalties to Social rolls that would be caused by being dirty or unkempt. Attuning one mote to it also causes its cleansing light to suffuse the body, not just the clothes, and give a bonus to resistance against disease and poison.
Hearthstone Amulet: An amulet (or bracer or tiara or whatever you want). It’s only got one job: you can put a hearthstone in it to get the hearthstone’s benefits. It costs a single mote in attunement, and if it’s made of the same materials as artifact armor you’re wearing, it counts as part of that armor for the purposes of Dependent hearthstones. More on those later.
Traveler’s Staff: A staff made from a magical branch of an ancient tree grown in a mighty Wood-elemental Manse on the Blessed Isle. It can be used as a mundane, non-Artifact quarterstaff in combat, but that’s not its main job. Its job is that at sunset, you can plant it and commit 3 motes to cause it to sprout into a fruit tree (usually apple) that grows enough to feed you and several others for the evening, and you can cut its branches for ready, easy firewood, and in the morning you can chop off a branch to regain the original staff. The tree will then die and rot away by sunset, leaving no trace of its presence.
Yasal Crystal: A yellow gemstone that can trap spirits inside itself. You have to touch the spirit and beat it with a Willpower roll, and it typically has to be a pretty weak spirit. A stone can hold only one spirit at a time, but you can free the spirit at will while touching the crystal. Once a spirit is in it, you can talk to it by touching the stone, but it can’t escape on its own or use any of its powers. Instead, you can use any of its Charms while holding the stone, as long as the spirit allows you to do so. This usually means bargaining with the spirit for a number of uses before you free it, or a set period of use before you free it. You can lie, of course, but an uncooperative spirit isn’t exactly useful, and once they get out they’ll probably try and get revenge. Rare crystals with higher Artifact ratings can hold more potent spirits. Yasal crystals never need attunement.

Artifact 3 non-weapons also exist! They’re powerful, though the lack of Evocations means you’ll want to be sure they’re useful to you.
Belt of Shadow Walking: A black belt made from giant bat wing leather, trimmed with black jade and soulsteel. It requires 5 motes of commitment and can control shadows and conceal you, giving a bonus to stealth rolls. You can also spend 10 motes to turn into a shadow temporarily, allowing you to pass through cracks and go unnoticed, except in brightly lit areas where you can’t hide in other shadows. While you are a shadow, you are effectively dematerialized and can only affect or be affected by other dematerialized beings, or things that can strike dematerialized beings, and you can use such Charms or objects to be able to interact with material things. Otherwise, you’re immune to basically any material threat except being sealed inside a room that has no cracks or doors to slip under. You can take any gear you have with you, but not living beings. Once your scene as a shadow ends, you must spend at least ten minutes in solid form before you can do it again.
Bracers of Universal Crafting: Bracers carved from green and white jade, a quarter inch thick and two inches wide. They must be attuned for five motes, but can then be activated freely. Once activated, they project Essence constructs that can be used as tools or extra hands, giving a bonus to anything requiring fine manipulation, such as lockpicking, surgery or most crafting. The constructs vanish when not needed and can be controlled as finely and precisely as your fingers. They are compatible with all Craft charms, negate the need for additional tools and eliminate any penalties for lacking proper tools.
Essence Glider: A construct of magical materials, feathersteel and Essence, with a wingspan of 20 feet and requiring a commitment of 2 motes. It looks like a delicate, fragile glider frame with no cloth covering, weighs less than half of a normal, conventional glider and can fold small enough to fit under a cloak. When you spend 1 mote, it unfolds and covers itself with a faintly glowing fabric of solid Essence for one scene, which you may extend by just reactivating it. It gives a bonus to Athletics roll to control it due to its responsiveness, massively increases your horizontal jump distance as long as you have room to use it and if activated from a high enough height, can be used for distance travel at a speed of 50 miles per hour.

Artifact 4 non-weapons are usually quite potent, but we only get one.
Folding Ship: A ship made of gold-tinged wood, with white sails. It requires no crew, handling itself automatically as long as it has a captain to helm it and commit seven motes to it. At the command of its owner, it can fold itself up in a grand spectacle that takes about a minute and ends with a one foot by six inch by six inch box weighing around 20 pounds. It can unfold at the same speed. It has the traits of a normal, non-magical ship, decided when you get the Artifact, as several models were produced in the First Age. It will, however, repair all damage it takes after a full day in box form.

Artifact 5 non-weapons also only have the one thing.
The Wondrous Globe of Precious Stability: A rare, precious First Age artifact in the form of a jade sphere the size of a human head, covered in occult symbols inlaid with orichalcum, moonsilver, starmetal and soulsteel. It has a hearthstone socket on top and mounting brackets that unfold from the bottom. Activating it requires putting a hearthstone in or committing ten motes. A hearthstone used to power it grants none of its normal benefits. Once activated, the sphere starts to glow and rotate, and its owner may order it to orbit themselves or mount it on a vehicle or building. If orbiting, it protects the user and everyone in Short range from all Wyld effects and gives a bonus to resist Fair Folk Charms, as well as preventing the Fair Folk from entering the protected area at all or affecting the orb. If attached to a vehicle or structure, it provides the same protection to the structure and everything inside it. It can protect any vehicle of any size, or any building no larger than the Imperial Palace or one of the sealed towers of Rathess, but cannot be used to protect an entire town or city.

Next time: Hearthstones

The Magic Rocks of Destiny

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Exalted 3rd Edition: The Magic Rocks of Destiny

Hearthstones are magic rocks. Most are generated from specially designed chambers in Manses that channel geomantic energies into a single point, coalescing in the form of the magic rock. Some, however, form naturally over centuries of geomantic flow through a Demesne. This produces a lot of unique behaviors and abilities from the stones. Hearthstones have a few potential keywords that describe how they behave.
Linked: The stone channels its powers from the Manse that made it. If the Manse is destroyed or disrupted, the stone goes inert and loses all power, crumbling to ash within days. Linked hearthstones are produced only by Manses, and never found in Demesnes.
Steady: The stone’s power is self-sustaining. Disrupting the parent Manse or Demesne has no effect on it.
Dependent: The stone’s power only activates once it has been socketed into an artifact that has another hearthstone in one of its sockets that isn’t Dependent. It does absolutely nothing otherwise.
Manse-born: The stone can only be grown in a Manse, never a wild Demesne.
Wild-born: The stone can only form naturally in a wild Demesne, and cannot be duplicated by the geomantic architecture of a Manse. All Wild-born hearthstones are also Steady.
Hearthstones cannot normally be destroyed in the heat of combat, as they are structures of pure geomantic Essence. Even a direct blow cannot normally break them. Instead, the destruction of a hearthstone requires several days of examination by someone with Occult 3+ and Craft (Jewelry or Gemcutting) 3+ to find a flaw or seam, which can then be split via precision strikes with an implement made of a magical material. Special jade chisels were made for this in the First Age, but in the modern Age of Sorrows, it’s typically done with a daiklave or other magical weapon. Linked Hearthstones may also be destroyed by going ham on the Manse that sustains them, though if the Manse is later repaired, they will regrow a new one over the course of the next season. Steady hearthstones are much harder to replace once destroyed. Hearthstones are also Standard or Greater, depending on whether they require a 2-dot or 4-dot merit to get, and will be aspected towards an element or other form of Essence.

Air Hearthstones
The Orb of Cool Breezes (Standard, Steady): When exposed to open air, it causes cool breezes to move through an area of two miles around it. This makes hot days comfortable and brings fresh air. In the winter, the breezes moderate extreme cold but also make cool drafts even in well-sealed homes. If the stone is sealed in an airtight container, its effects cease to function until exposed to open air again.
The Memory Stone (Standard, Linked): The stone is a clear, colorless crystal with an internal prismatic radiance. It reflects and stores all of its bearer’s memories in its facets, as long as it is kept in an attuned hearthstone socket and the memories were formed while carrying the stone. The bearer can draw forth perfect recollections from its depths at will with complete recall. If the stone is ever removed from attunement for more than a day, all stored memories fade away.
Aetherial Sphere (Greater, Linked): The stone is a perfect clear orb with prismatic facets from various angles. If the owner knows Terrestrial Circle Sorcery, it grants knowledge of a single Terrestrial Circle spell that isn’t Demon of the First Circle or Summon Elemental, as long as it is placed in a hearthstone socket. Once a spell has been cast using the hearthstone, it remains imprinted in the stone and cannot be changed until the owner learns to cast the spell on their own.
Gem of Fair Winds (Greater, Manse-born): The stone has a small white swirl on one side, and it ensures that all winds within 3 miles of the stone blow in the direction the swirl faces. The wind’s strength is not changed from normal, just its direction. If someone changes the stone’s orientation, the wind shifts direction over the course of 15 minutes to match.
Twice-Striking Lightning Prism (Greater, Linked): The stone is a prism-shaped translucent crystal that feels metallic when touched. While it is in an attuned hearthstone socket, whenever the Exalt that owns it uses a Charm, Evocation or spell in direct support or furtherance of a Defining Intimacy, the stone empowers the magic, causing it to treat the user’s Essence as if it were one dot higher for all effect calculations. This does not grant any access to magic the Exalt cannot already use.

Earth Hearthstones
The Stone of Stability (Standard, Steady): All structures within 3 miles of the stone become unusually sturdy, able to survive all but the worst earthquakes without harm. Bridges can bear more weight than normal and mineshafts are less likely to collapse even if poorly shored. This still doesn’t keep unstable structures up, allow flimsy bridges to handle yeddim or so on – it just roughly doubles the structures’ strength and durability. This only affects structures such as houses, mineshafts or bridges that are built on or into the ground and can’t be moved without great effort. It also provides no protection against deliberate attacks on these structures.
Iron Soul Stone (Standard, Wild-born): This stone looks like a smooth grey rock. It gives total immunity to the passive transformation effects of the Wyld to everyone within 100 yards of the bearer (or Long range, in combat), even preventing Wyld addiction. Fair Folk find the stone’s radiance unpleasant and get an automatic Minor Tie of aggression towards the bearer while within its effect radius.
The Earth Shaping Jewel (Greater): Anyone who has touched the stone in the last day may transform unworked stone into clay or dirt and clay into stone. However, for this benefit to be granted, the jewel must have remained in the same location for at least a week and the people touching it can only use its power on earth or stone within three miles of it. Anyone using the power must touch whatever they want to transform, and each touch can transform up to one cubic yard of material over the course of about a minute.
Mountain-Burden Stone (Greater): This chalk-black jewel does absolutely nothing in a hearthstone socket…for its user. It is a weapon. If placed in an open socket of an enemy’s equipment, which requires a Martial Arts or Brawl-based gambit in combat, the stone locks in with a ringing crash and increases the artifact’s weight immensely. This automatically disarms weapons and prevents them from being retrieved from the ground while the stone is in place, and marks armor so heavy that movement becomes impossible and all other actions get a penalty. Forcibly prying the stone out is a feat of strength that can’t be flurried.
Sword-Soul Gem (Greater, Dependent, Steady): This is a chalk-white stone when held, but changes color to the same as whatever artifact it is placed in. When socketed into an attuned artifact, it awakens the next Evocation for which the bearer qualifies, though such a temporarily awakened Evocation cannot be used to qualify for prerequisites – you have to spend XP on it to allow that.

Fire Hearthstones
The Firestop Stone (Standard, Steady): Within 3 miles of the stone, fires spread slower and are harder to light, requiring a roll even with optimal conditions unless lit in a stove, hearth, kiln or forge marked by a special sigil and prayed over monthly. Even these are unlikely to have their fires spread outside them. Arson and attacks with fire-based weapons do minimal damage to the region, and forest or prairie fires are rare.
Sphere of the Revolutionary Dog (Standard, Manse-born, Steady): This is a bright orange orb filled with slow tongues of flame. When socketed into an artifact, the owner may pay one mote when falling asleep to make the Willpower they regain overnight go into the hearthstone rather than gaining it themself. At any later point, they may pay 1 mote to retrieve and spend the stored Willpower. The sphere may hold only 1 Willpower at a time.
Cinder of Burning Mind (Standard, Dependent): This is a glassy black stone that smoulders with red-green fire in its heart. If the owner knows Terrestrial Circle Sorcery, this spell gives knowledge of a single non-summoning fire-themed spell of the Terrestrial Circle while socketed. Once a spell has been cast using it, it remains imprinted in the stone and cannot be changed until the owner learns to cast the spell on their own.
Gem of Endless Summer (Greater): The area around this hearthstone assumes the temperature it would have at the height of summer for whatever time of day it is. This extends out for four miles around the stone and ends abruptly exactly at that distance. If you move the stone, the circle of summer goes with it, though any snow or ice thaw only as fast as they normally would. The effect does, however, extend several yards into the ground, allowing for plant cultivation.
Candent Carbuncle (Greater): This is an irregular stone that looks like a glowing coal and is always warm. If socketed into an artifact, it unlocks the ability to learn two Evocations – Burning Coal Fist, which boosts your unarmed attacks by wreathing your limb in flame, and Incandescent Lance, which lets you throw a fireball with an unarmed attack.

Water Hearthstones
The Purity Gem (Standard, Steady): All water from wells or cisterns within three miles of the stone tastes pure and sweet and never contains poison of disease. Any toxins or diseases deliberately added to the water are instantly neutralized, and the water retains this property as long as it’s in the area of effect. Even water in mugs or pots is neutralized.
The Fountain-Summoning Stone (Standard, Steady): This is a dark oval emerald that is cold and moist to the touch. If buried and left undisturbed for a period between a minute and half an hour (depending on how wet the area is), it will spring back to the surface on top of a gushing fountain of water, which remains until the sun next rises and sets. The stone cannot operate anywhere that a spring could not possibly appear, like a balcony garden or a barrel of dirt on a ship.
The Orb of Calm (Greater): For four miles around the stone, seas are calm, rain is not heavy and winds are light. Waves never get more than three yards high and winds are never more than 25 miles per hour. This only functions within two miles of an ocean or lake that is at least 50 miles across In its smallest dimension. If put on a ship, the seas around the ship remain a moving calm zone. This doesn’t make doldrums – it just prevents dangerously potent weather.
The Freedom Stone (Greater, Manse-born): This is a murky blue-black, shifting stone. When mounted in a hearthstone socket, it unlocks the ability to learn three Evocations – Chains Cast Into Water, which gives you free successes to escaping bonds by making your skin slick with water, Rain-Grasping Evasion, which lets you escape grapples slightly faster, and Sinuous Liquid Escape, which lets you resist grapples with Dodge.

Wood Hearthstones
The Health Stone (Standard, Manse-born): This is a mahogany-red stone with a black spiral. It repels spirits of rot and disease within two miles. In that area, food keeps at least twice as long and becomes obviously foul before it can make anyone sick. Everyone in the area that wears a spiral-marked amulet similar to the stone’s spiral gets bonus dice to resist or recover from disease or infection. The stone does not prevent fermentation or aging, but aged meat is less likely to rot and wine or beer are less likely to go bad.
The Monkey Stone (Standard, Linked): This is a red-brown stone that feels like fuzzy bark. When socketed into armor, it removes the armor’s mobility penalty for purposes of climbing, leaping or other acrobatic or arboreal actions (and no others). If the armor has no penalty, it instead gives bonus successes to those actions. Also, the bearer never treats tree branches, tree limbs, crumbling ramparts or other elevated, treacherous terrain as Difficult Terrain.
The Harvest Gem (Greater, Linked): Any fields within five miles of the stone are very fertile. On average to good years, all crops produce over twice their normal best yield, and even in bad years, they produce an amount equal to their normal best yield. This doesn’t reduce the need for effort in labor, but ensures it will be rewarded.
Rose of Millions (Greater): This is an eight-sided pink and black tourmaline. If placed in a socket, the bearer may spend 4 motes when falling asleep to enshrine a Major or Defining Intimacy in the stone. Afterwards, they automatically know when they see someone who has the same Intimacy, though not at what level. The stone may hold only one Intimacy at a time.

Next time: Solar, Abyssal, Lunar and Sidereal Hearthstones

Sun Rocks

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Sun Rocks

Solar Hearthstones
Stone of Innocent’s Protection (Standard, Wild-born): Within two miles of this stone, no creature of darkness may enter any dwelling that contains either a child under 10 or someone sleeping. No, creature of darkness still won’t be defined until the DB book.
The Gem of Day’s Light (Greater, Steady): This is a yellow gem with an inner light. It allows its bearer to concentrate for a moment to make it glow like a miniature sun, lighting up everything for a mile around as if it were day. You can determine how far the effect goes by concentrating (so it can detect walls that would stop the light and tell you how far they are). The effect lasts however long you want, but concentrating is a miscellaneous action in combat. Ending it is reflexive. Hungry ghosts react to the light as if it were the actual sun.
Hierophant’s Eye (Greater, Dependent, Linked): This is a black octagonal stone with orange-gold light along the edges. It gives an automatic non-Charm success to all Shape Sorcery actions when it’s socketed properly.
Gem of Inner Power (Greater, Linked): This is a red-gold gem whose facets focus the eye inwards to a gleaming core that glows when it catches light. When socketed into an orichalcum weapon, you may commit 2 motes to it to awaken one Evocation of the weapon for free, for as long as the commitment lasts.
Glory Sphere (Greater, Dependent, Linked): This is a white-gold sphere that gives +1 to its bearer’s Essence rating for purposes of learning the next Charm or Evocation they qualify for, for as long as it remains properly socketed. Charms that unlock Sorcery are not affected, and you can only learn one Charm this way; after that, you must raise your Essence rating before it can be used to get a new Charm.

Abyssal Hearthstones
Stone of the Nightly Reunion (Standard, Steady): Every night, anyone can visit a graveyard within three miles of the stone and speak to the dead there. The buried dead can hear and respond and may create slightly transparent images of their bodies in life. However, barring use of special magic, neither dead nor living can touch or affect each other in any way.
Walking Corpse Stone (Greater, Linked): This is a rough-hewn gray stone that feels leathery when touched and has crimson flaws shooting through it. When put into a corpse just before burial, in as shallow a grave as desired as long as the corpse is buried completely, the jewel makes the corpse rise as a zombie at the next sunset under the control of the person that buried it. The stone need not remain in the corpse for it to remain animated and loyal, and it can raise another zombie at the next sunset.
Gem of Ghostly Protection (Greater, Manse-born): Within 3 miles of this stone, phantoms harass anyone that doesn’t live in the area protected by it and anyone that tries to steal or harm anyone that lives in that region. The phantoms are immaterial and active only between dusk and dawn. They may create spectral forms to scare or distract outsiders, can shout and howl and throw small objects; they can’t do damage but can be very annoying. They render stealth impossible for their victims and increase the difficulty of all actions. Mundane stealth cannot hide from them, but Charms or abilities that allow for supernatural stealth can avoid their notice.

Lunar Hearthstones
Stone of Nature’s Bounty (Standard, Wild-born): Anyone that falls asleep within 3 miles of this stone awakens the next day with an intuitive understanding of how to find good food and water in their current environment. It won’t let them find anything that doesn’t already exist, but does give a bonus to Survival rolls to find food or water, which lasts until they next sleep.
Chameleon Stone (Standard): This is a colorless triangular prism that takes on the colors of whatever it touches. When put in a socket, it lets you spend 1 Willpower to alter your skin, hair and eye color to blend with the natives of wherever you are. It may also slightly alter facial structure to help, such as adding epicanthic folds or similar. Removing the gem or spending 1 Willpower will revert your appearance.
Beast Gem (Greater): All trained animals within 3 miles of the stone become unusually healthy and fertile, and their offspring are exceptional. Such offspring are obedient, good-tempered, as smart as a monkey, healthy and as strong as the best of their kind. This only affects offspring of animals that end up born in its area of effect and at least one parent of which is trained for riding, as a beast of burden or as a guard animal.

Sidereal Hearthstones
Gem of Luck (Standard): Everyone in the same village, town or city as the gem is resistant to bad luck. Dropped plates break less often, lost items are found easier, that kind of thing. Also, difficulty 1 rolls never botch. This has no effect on deliberate malice and cannot stop or undo curses or large disasters, unless those disasters were caused by a single small accident.
Jewel of the Celestial Mandarin (Standard, Manse-born): This is a transparent, faceted square stone that glows violet. Anyone bearing it in a socket may see the doors into spirit sanctums. It doesn’t give the power to enter them, but you can speak and your voice will be heard inside them as a booming voice of authority, with any commands you give to come out being treated as if they align with a Minor Intimacy.
Sphere of Red Rain (Greater, Dependent, Linked): This is a black gem with countless tiny red flaws. You must attune four motes to it as well as having it properly socketed. It gives you use of a single combat Charm you qualify for but don’t already know. You can’t use this Charm as a prerequisite, though, unless you actually pay XP to learn it normally – you’re just able to use it.
Stone of Hidden Safety (Greater, Linked): This stone protects a settlement no larger than a small city, preventing it from being found by anyone that has intent to conquer, rob or harm the city as a whole or a large number of its people. (Immense metropolises cannot be protected, as they are far too well known.) This cannot stop anyone who has a supernatural ability to locate places, but otherwise everyone hostile to the city becomes lost when trying to reach it, increasing the difficulty to find the city to 5 for these people even if they are on a direct, straight road to it. Anyone without hostile intent must still make a roll to find the place, but it is only difficulty 1. If a hostile person or army accompanies a non-hostile guide, the guide will almost always become separated from them.

Next time: Evocations

My Magic Sword Charms

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: My Magic Sword Charms

Evocations are a kind of magic drawn forth from your artifacts – and in the Core, specifically your weapons and armor. They grow out of your artifact as you establish a rapport with the mystic object and create a spiritual connection with it. While artifacts are not technically alive like animals or spirits are, they have a character and motive to them and they have a spiritual nature. By connecting with that inner nature and drawing it out by extended use, you are able to tap into their depths of power. An artifact’s Evocations depend heavily on a number of factors. The materials used to make it are part of it, as are the circumstances of its creation, the personality and style of the wielder and the deeds the artifact is used to perform. A daiklave used by a god hunter will develop differently than one used just for honor duels, and both will differ from the tool of a serial killer.

Evocations vary wildly, but a few things are common to all of them. First, only someone attuned to the artifact can awaken its Evocations. Second, artifacts are typically designed to harmonize with a specific sort of Essence; the book says all the ones in this book are meant for Solars and won’t harmonize nearly as well with anyone else. Future Mors notes that this is not true of future rules – rather, while published trees may lean towards specific splat types, you are free to wield any artifact and customize its Charms for your PC no matter who they are. Of course, this means having to do custom Charm design, so grain of salt there. But like, an artifact won’t just be like ‘fuck you, no’ when wielded by a non-Solar in the future, which the core suggests it might. Third, Evocations vary in power and number with an artifact’s dot rating. The more powerful the artifact, the more Evocations it can have and the more potent they tend to be, in general. An artifact must have at least 3 dots to have Evocations at all. Last, unless otherwise specified, you must be wielding or wearing the artifact to use any of its Evocations, even permanent ones. Supplemental Evocations must supplement rolls involving using the artifact, Simple or Reflexive ones that make attacks use the artifact to attack, and Reflexive defenses only work if you use the artifact to defend.

Most artifacts are made of the five magical materials, the most potent substances known to Creation for crafting. The dominant material will have a huge impact on the artifact’s theming and who is best at using it; Solars are equally skilled with all five, but other Exalts resonate with specific kinds of material and are less good with others. It is possible to make an artifact out of an alloy of different magical materials or to use multiple materials in different parts, which can shade or influence the dominant material. However, the dominant material has the greatest influence on its themes and Evocations. What are the materials?

Jade is the most common of the five, found in deposits and quarries across Creation. It resonates with the Dragon-Bloods, and it is used not just to make artifacts but as the basis for Realm currency. It is the most diverse of the materials, as it actually comes in five flavors – one for each element. All Dragon-Blooded are equally proficient with all five types, though many prefer to use the one that matches their aspect. All types of jade are good for channeling and manifesting their associated element, but that’s the main point of commonality between all five, Evocation-wise. The other qualities of the five types of jade can differ massively. This and its relative commonness make it the most-used material for composite artifacts. Black Jade resonates with water, and its Evocations frequently give control over water, flexibility, communication with or command of spirits, the power to flood things or draw moisture from them, or the manifestation of destructive liquids. Blue Jade resonates with air, and it is often able to move air, create wind blasts, lower temperature or make ice, manifest or control lightning or anticipate the intent of foes – or even read their minds briefly. Green Jade resonates with wood, and its Evocations often control plants, make things grow or wither, produce manifestations of wood, siphon Essence from living things or give it to them, or make toxins. Red Jade resonates with fire, and it can often control, manifest or protect from fire, heighten reflexes, raise temperatures, give controlled berserking, quicken movements or give attacks and evasions explosive power. White Jade resonates with earth, and it is often able to control or manifest dirt, sand, earth or stone, harden things, immobilize foes, strike with great force, give calm and clarity, or mesmerize foes.

Moonsilver is a silvery metal that, in unworked form, is harder than steel yet with a liquid sheen similar to quicksilver. It resonates with Lunars, and in the past Lunars often felt anyone carrying moonsilver had to prove themselves worthy of it, frequently challenging them to contests. These days, Lunars prefer to just steal any moonsilver artifacts they find if they don’t approve of the wielders. The nature of moonsilver is protean and wild. Its Evocations often work to unite wielder and weapon with instinct or insight, use flamboyant or barely restrained attacks or highly subtle, venomous blows, cause ever-bleeding wounds, or physically reshape and cause the weapon to move temporarily, perhaps to go around a shield or stretch into an organ.

Orichalcum is a super-hard golden metal that only Solars have natural affinity for. While Solars can wield all metals with equal ability, they found that orichalcum best resonated with their own Charms. It can sometimes be found in naturally occurring mountain veins, and in the First Age there was a process to refine gold into orichalcum through use of lava and concentrated, mystically augmented sunlight, but all such refineries were destroyed or abandoned over the centuries. Orichalcum’s Evocations are diverse, as it serves as a natural power amplifier. It is the best material for empowering sorcery, harnessing the power of light or divine judgment, or channeling non-elemental energies. It can even do things like cause earthquakes or call down shooting stars, and it is excellent for producing immense cutting or smashing pressure. When the Solars were murdered, their killers buried them in lavish tombs to appease their ghosts, and most of their orichalcum creations were sealed with them as grave goods. Solars reborn in the current age occasionally dream of the locations of these tombs and the wonders within them.

Starmetal, once refined, looks only like polished and reflective steel of great quality…until the light strikes it just right, making it gleam in the colors of the Five Maidens. It is the rarest of magical materials, refined from ore drawn out of fallen stars. It resonates with Sidereals, who often use astrology and sorcery to predict the paths of starfalls so that they can recover the ore. Because of its rarity, starmetal artifacts typically use minimalist, delicate designs, and when it is used as a composite material it is typically in the form of wire filigree or etching. Starmetal’s Evocations excel at spirit binding, commanding divine power, revealing truths or secrets, striking at abstract concepts or harnessing them, shifting one type of power into another, or deferring terrible things by substituting lesser losses. They also are sometimes able to reproduce spirit Charms.

Soulsteel appears at first like black steel, but when light strikes it, it reveals tortured faces deep within, which can sometimes be seen to writhe or heard to moan and scream in the heat of battle. It cannot be found naturally in Creation, and is made in the soul-forges of the Deathlords, who take rare Underworld ores and mix them with the souls of the dead. It resonates with Abyssals. Soulsteel artifacts of the First Age are quite rare, though not unknown. Evocations of soulsteel artifacts often bind or harness the powers of death or violence, command or bind ghosts, call on the powers of the Underworld, make injuries fester, raise the undead, turn injuries into power, amplify pain, hold off death or siphon life force.

Next time: Sword Waifu

Magic Sword Girlfriend

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Magic Sword Girlfriend

We’re now into example artifacts with Evocations. Beloved Adorei is a 3-dot orichalcum daiklave, made in the First Age by the Twilight Auravash. It was made for his Circle’s Dawn, Brother of Brothers, Night of His Heart, specifically because Auravash thought the dude was a complete asshole idiot as well as one of the best fighters in the world. He saw that the Dawn would fuck basically anything female, seduce anyone, even people he really, really shouldn’t, and so Auravash forged Adorei in the hopes of preventing the guy from creating a massive scandal, starting a war or otherwise causing the Deliberative to censure the Circle. Adorei was designed to be the perfect defender, a powerful and empathic blade that would guide the Dawn to decency and greatness. When he complete and awoke Adorei, he heard her sigh in relief to finally be made, and he was glad, sure the plan would work. There was just one problem: Adorei fell in love with Brother of Brothers, and, quote, “he ruined the daiklave as surely as he’d ruined the resolve of countless temple priestesses.” The two became inseparable, and she pushed him to ever greater skill by letting him understand his foes instinctively to help find ways to defeat them. What eventually settled the Solar’s wild nature was a Lunar, Ashala, “but that is a tale for another day.” Adorei was lost during the Usurpation, now sitting atop a sarcophagus inside some lost tomb, where she pines to be carried into battle by a Solar once more. She has three hearthstone slots.

On her own, Adorei is just a slightly more accurate than normal daiklave. However, she forms an instant Major Tie of affection towards any Solar that takes her out of the tomb and into battle. If used as her wielder’s favored weapon and treated well, this bond will grow to a Defining Tie, at which point she gets a bonus success to all Withering damage. She also automatically senses all of her wielder’s Intimacies. Her Defining Tie relies on her being taken into battle and used, and in being the medium through which her wielder’s skill is manifested. After three stories at Defining, she loves her wielder eternally and nothing can break or lower her Tie, even death. Adorei telepathically speaks to her wielder in a language of “strong emotions and instincts.” And also has a quote to go with every one of her Evocations, of which there are five, ranging from Essence 1 to 3. They’re actually worth going through, though, if only for the fact that they are a sort of story arc. This is true of most Evocation trees.

First is Heart-Knowing Blade, which allows your Decisive damage rolls to double as successful Read Intentions checks to see if the target has any Intimacies that match yours and reveals one or, if not, what the most aggressive, violent or opposite one is. (“Quoth the Daiklaive: Sorry, lover, it looks like this one wants to be saved.”) Then you get No Other Blade, which gives you bonus successes against people you’ve used Heart-Knowing Blade against but gives a penalty to using other weapons. (“Quoth the Daiklave: What’s Spring Razor got on me!?”) After that, Magnanimous Sunfire Blast lets you do bonus damage to foes you know have Intimacies opposed to you based on how many of them you know about via Heart-Knowing Blade. (“Quoth the Daiklave: Smells like regret.”) From there, you get Holy Miracle Strike, which allows you to focus your skill into a perfect blow that can cut anything. This can break unbreakable locks, cut through unbreakable doors, shatter ongoing spells – the trick is that to do it, you must know at least two Defining Intimacies of the being that most represents whatever you’re trying to cut, and once you channel them in this strike, you can never use them for the Charm ever again. This cannot be used to hurt other characters, but can be used as a Decisive gambit to break curses, spells or Charm effects that are hurting or controlling the target, though you do need to know the target’s Intimacies for that. It cannot end Limit Break or the Great Curse. (“Quoth the Daiklave: I’ll cut through anything for you.”) The final Charm is Battle Dance of the Warrior Wed, which happens when Adorei dreams of actually marrying her wielder. You can’t activate it – it is activated by Adorei herself when she thinks you’re going to die. Once activated, she dies when the combat ends, trading her life for yours. Until then, she recites three vows as part of her final “wedding dance” (read: fight). Her first vow, Your Blood Is Mine, heals you on any round you use her to successfully defend against all attacks made against you, as long as you attacked in the round and aren’t in Crash. Her second vow, I Am Your Aegis, gives you 1 Initiative at the start of each turn, even in Crash. Her final vow, Life and Death Through Me, prevents your Resolve and Guile from taking any penalties except from Intimacies, lets her reveal enemy Intimacies when you get hit by Decisive attacks (starting with the ones most useful to you for unnerving, scaring or confusing foes) and gives you automatic successes to threaten foes or otherwise cause them emotions that lower their defenses, sap Initiative or cause penalties based on “the profundity of the player’s social stunt and the ST’s creativity.” (“Quoth the Daiklave: Challala chalandora Adorei.”)

Once Adorei uses Battle Dance of the Warrior Wed, she dies. After her death, her voice ceases to speak and her presence is gone. You can still wield the daiklave and attune to it, but its special bonuses and Evocations are all gone. “It is said that once her power has passed from the world, Beloved Adorei will return on the next solar eclpse. Yet the next may not happen for another hundred or thousand years, or even longer.” However, you have an alternate method: get a crafter to fix her. This is a normal repair project, with two exceptions. First, your crafter (or you, if you are the crafter) must study her for a month continually to ensure the job can be done. Second, each repair roll must be accompanied by you making a difficulty 5 Performance roll to read a poem or haiku you wrote for Adorei. Your successes reduce the cost in gold points needed to awaken her, at least, but if you fail at the roll, the next repair roll can’t be made until you succeed. The difficulty does at least drop by 1 for each consecutive roll.

Brilliant Sentinel is a 3-dot set of orichalcum heavy plate. It originated in an enlightened city on the shore, raised and ruled by a potent Twilight. He brilliance and skill were seen as a threat, and while she fought to defend her city, she failed. This Twilight, Za’Rei, was the only survivor of her kingdom, and she vowed never again to let her creations be destroyed. She summoned forth a great dragon from the Pole of Fire, and in its breath she forged a suit of plate patterned on her iconic anima, with the chestplate resembling a lantern and each smaller plate bearing the image of flickering flames. The armor was able to absorb an anima’s Essence itself, thus shielding its wearer from deadly force. Once infused, it was then able to channel that power into a bright challenge to all foes, empowering its wearer to stand between them and the innocent. Brilliant Sentinel has two hearthstone slots – one under the throat, one between the shoulderblades.

Besides the normal traits of artifact heavy plate, Brilliant Sentinel, when attuned and worn, gives a small penalty to the Join Battle rolls of foes who have harmed or wish to harm one of the wearer’s Major or Defining Intimacies, which becomes a removed success rather than a removed die against non-Exalted creatures of darkness. …which still isn’t a system term. The armor has three Evocations, ranging from Essence 1 to 3. The first one, however, is not bought with XP – it is gained for free the moment you first attune to the armor. Also, if the armor has a Solar-aspect hearthstone in its neck slot, you can pay 1m to automatically give it one anima charge even if your anima is still dim.

The first Evocation is Luminous Soul Warden. It only works while your anima is glowing or more, and it lets you vent your anima into the armor, dimming your display to add charges. The armor can hold up to 3 anima charges, and once filled, it glows brightly, making it hard for you to be stealthy. Each charge reduces Decisive damage rolled against you while it’s in the armor, and you can reflexively end the Charm to vent all charges, returning your anima to a display equal to the levels in the armor. Second is Dawn of a Hundred Rebukes, which you can use at the start of any round no matter what your Initiative, as long as the armor is fully charged with anima. It vents all anima charges in a blinding flash that lets you roll Presence to make a gambit against all foes within 3 range bands, which gets automatic successes against “any cursed or blighted creature of the night” which is absolutely not a system term, and anyone that’s threatened or harmed your Major or Defining Intimacies. Anyone hit gets a penalty for two rounds due to being partially blinded and gets their action delayed, which can skip the turns entirely of trivial foes or non-Exalted ghosts, demons or other creatures of darkness. Still not a system term. Finally, you get Unconquered Guardian Defense, which works on anyone that is under the penalty from the last Charm. You glow in many colors, drawing in and eating the light that blinds them and distorting their vision so you’re the only thing they can see. Such foes can’t see or attack anyone but you for the rest of the round unless they pay Willpower and resist a Presence roll with their Resolve.

Next time: Moonlit Huntress, Shining Ice Mirror

Non-Golden Stuff

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: Non-Golden Stuff

Moonlit Huntress is a 3-dot moonsilver powerbow, built in a powerful Eastern demesne in the early First Age by the Lunar artisan Meheret. She used ritually grown wood to fuel the fires in which she shaped the metal by night, hiding it from sunlight by day. Each night, she quenched it in the blood of a great beast she had hunted for this sole purpose. After wielding it herself for several centuries, she gave it as a wedding gift to her Solar wife, who was also a hunter. After the Usurpation, it was recovered by Lunars, but its last wielder, Fangs-of-Ivory, was slain three years back by the Wyld Hunt. Now, the bow sleeps where Fangs-of-Ivory hid it before dying, awaiting the arrival of a Lunar or Solar. It is bound to a clear stream somewhere in the East, visible only by the light of the full moon at night, and only when it has been a month since the thaw of ice and stream is neither rushing nor still, when the moonlight can bend to show it on the rock bed. It is a recurved bow decorated with carvings of the phases of the moon along its arms, and two hearthstone sockets in the form of carved new moon designs.

When wielded by a Lunar or Solar, the Moonlit Huntress gains an additional blessing on top of its normal stats. This blessing changes ‘phases’ as your Initiative goes up and down. At 0 or lower, it is the NeW Moon blessing, which gives a bonus to stealth checks. At 1-4, it is Waning Moon, which gives a bonus to disengage. At 5-9, it is Half Moon, which gives a larger bonus to Awareness checks. At 10-14, it is Waxing Moon, which gives a larger bonus to rush and disengage. At 15+, it is Full Moon, which lets you aim reflexively from Long range when making Decisive attacks, though you get no aiming bonus for it – it just means you don’t need to waste time setting up to take a shot. The bow has one Essence 2 Evocation, Moonlit Huntress Aura. You must have used the bow in battle for at least two stories before you can learn it. Once a day, it lets you immediately gain 15 Initiative and have access to all five phase blessings for a few rounds.

Shining Ice Mirror is a 3-dot blue jade reaper daiklave (read: Sephiroth’s katana) that, by artifact standards, is minimalist and elegant in design, with only a thin, slightly curved blade the color of ice and a hilt woven with thin starmetal wire. It is a deliberate blade, rewarding foresight and planning over hacking and rending. Ancient records say it was forged by the Dragon-Blooded sorceress Mikako Khem as a gift for the Solar that her family served. It was shaped in the frozen flames in the heart of a long-destroyed Manse, serving as a symbol of Gens Mikako’s devotion until the very night of Usurpation. Surviving Shogunate documents indicate that it was taken from its Solar owner’s grave and wielded against the Winter Folk in battle, then returned after each untombing in great ceremonies of propitiation. The weapon was thought lost in the Wyld Crusade until its recent unearthing by the Haslanti League in the excavation of a First Age ruin discovered under a glacier. Now, a shadow stalks it across the North, and its last three owners have all been found dead, torn to bits and with their blood frozen around them. No records survive to indicate where the ancient tomb it was once placed in lies. It has a single hearthstone socket in its hilt.

A Solar wielding the blade may pay two extra motes on top of its normal attunement to gain its perfect balance, causing their Aim actions taken with intent to use the blade to also give the benefits of the Full Defense action, but without any of its costs. The sword has four Evocations ranging from Essence 1 to 3. The first, Winter Night Cut, can only be learned after you have first slain a significant foe in a single blow with it, sending them from unhurt to dead in a single Decisive attack. It causes the blade to send forth a freezing wind when you Crash a foe, giving them a penalty to Defense and all actions while Crashed. The second, Frozen Soul Resolve, is gained free when you use the blade to defeat a foe you have an Intimacy of fear or awe towards, or a significant foe that tried to intimidate or threaten you or inflict supernatural fear or awe on you. It lets you raise your Resolve against threats and attempts to overawe you, but reduces the benefits of your passionate Ties by one level of intensity for the rest of the scene, as you draw on the blade’s chill to freeze your heart. The third Evocation, Cold Moon Slash, requires you to defeat a significant foe you’ve maneuvered into unfavorable conditions by exploiting their Intimacies deliberately after learning them with Read Intentions actions before you can learn it. It lets you shoot a wave of freezing Essence at a foe as a Decisive attack, which also gives them a mobility penalty and a penalty to feats of strength for a few turns and lets you regain Willpower. The final Evocation, Ice-Fixing Stare, lets you freeze people with a Withering attack if they’re suffering penalties from earlier Evocations, making their penalties worse.

Spring Razor is a 3-dot green jade daiklave. In centuries past, a dragon named Vashir lived in the jungles of the Silent Crescent, with claws of oak and eyes of emerald, and a mane of beautiful petals. Its breath was sweet and venomous, and it killed many. A sworn brotherhood of Dragon-Blooded came together to slay Vashir, and one of them, Cynis Katen, carved out its most fragrant and poisonous fang, bringing it home and smelting down a fortune in jade and steel, to make it into a weapon. It took decades of work, yet she managed to neither scar nor scorch the wood of the tooth as she turned it into Spring Razor’s core. In Realm Year 632, when she first started going grey, Katen quenched the blade in the sap of a tree planted the day forging began, and it was finished. It is a double-edged blade with a slight curve, deep green and with a hilt of flowering brambles. The blade values elegance, beauty and death, and Cynis Katen insisted it was the purest expression of venomous power to have been made since the Scarlet Empress took power, though the wielders of the longfang Helltooth and the powerbow Green Death disagreed. It has two hearthstone sockets hidden in the brambles along its guard.

A Solar or Dragon-Blood that attunes to the blade gains its first Evocation free, and it has five Evocations from Essence 1 to 3. This first is Howling Lotus Strike, which allows a Decisive attack to deliver a poison equivalent to toxic arrow frog venom and makes the blade burn with venomous Essence. The second Evocation, Venom-Intensifying Stroke, makes your attack increase the damage and duration of any poison the target is suffering from each time you hit. The third and fourt Evocations can only be learned by non-Hideous characters that have one of Dexterity 4+, Appearance 4+ or a specialty in an elegant fighting style usable with Spring Razor. The third is Seven Widows Venom, which ensures that the poison delivered by Howling Lotus Strike always lasts for at least one round no matter how good the resistance roll is. The fourth, Deadly Flowers Blooming, makes pink and red flowers bloom along the blade. After three activations, they bloom fully, improving the damage and duration of the Howling Lotus Strike poison. The flowers can be removed with a Disarm gambit, ending the Evocation early. The final evocation requires two of the previously listed traits, and it is Delicate Crimson Execution. It makes your attack sprout flowers on the target’s body, which lower the duration of the poisons affecting the target…in order to concentrate it and do twice as much damage as the poison would have done.

Next time: Freedom’s Cadence, Hunting Hawk, Dauntless

More Than Three Dots

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Exalted 3rd Edition: More Than Three Dots

Freedom's Cadence is a 4-dot starmetal chain shirt. It is said that it was made by Gu-Shaiyen, Celestial Daimyo of the Drums of War, who made it in honor of Mars and Mercury, crafting a starmetal hauberk and making it into a sleeveless tunic of mail and yellow silk, with its threads interwoven with strands of Sidereal Essence. The chain rings shimmer in the light even in total sillness, and when worn in battle, it makes the sound of distant, pounding drums. It grants its wearer the power of momentum and forward motion, ensuring that they will finish what they begin. It has a single hearthstone slot. While it comes with lamellar pauldrons, vambraces and fist guards, they are not actual armor on their own.

A Sidereal, Solar or Getimian may pay 3 additional motes when attuning to Freedom's Cadence. This loosens the armor's Essence, causing the entire thing to no longer count as armor. This bonus attunement is ended if you enter Crash. The armor has 5 Evocations from Essence 1 to 3. The first, Stepping Through Strife, gives bonus dice on any attack or social influence against an opponent you've gotten Initiative Break from Crashing for as long as they remain in Crash. However, you get a penalty against anyone that gets an Initiative Shift on you for as long as you are in Crash. The second, Snow-Gathering Elusion, draws forth unstoppable destiny, increasing the armor's soak when you dodge an attack. The third, Destination-Hunting Impulse, causes your Rushes to get bonus successes once you successfully Rush a first time. The fourth, Clear Path Defense, permanently increases the armor's soak by making the armor seek out the foe's attacks to block them. The fifth, Pound the Drums, taps into the spiritual energy of the armor and draws on Gu-Shaiyen's power, increasing the sound of drums the armor makes until it covers the battlefield, which automatically succeeds as an Inspire action on you and all allies, giving all affected bonus Initiative each round as long as they're near you and don't get hit that round. However, you must flurry a miscellaneous action to dance each round to maintain the effect, and it ends if you get Crashed, knocked down or grappled.

Orichalcum Hunting Hawk is a 4-dot orichalcum powerbow. Once, there was a forge-manse named Skyfire, built atop the highest Western mountain. Its master was Shan Irrak of the Golden Forge, famous for his skill with orichalcum. Once, he fell in love with a predator-spirit named Red Wing and made this weapon in her honor - a powerbow carved with the image of a hawk, with ruby eyes and orichalcum claws and wings, all flawless. It was a weapon meant to express his pure devotion and her pure predatory nature. He gave it as a gift, but unfortunately, Red Wing was torn apart when the Fair Folk invaded Creation, and the bow was lost in the chaos of the Wyld Crusade. It has a siingle hearthstone socket on its 'back', where the wings meet.

A Solar that attunes to Orichalcum Hunting Hawk may close their eyes and see through the ruby eyes of the bow when, which ignore all penalties from poor visibility, darkness and blindness as long as your attack has an aim bonus. There are 5 Evocations from Essence 1 to 3. The first, Orichalcum Wings Elevation, causes you to move an additional range band if you use it to attack while at the peak of a Monkey Leap. The second is gained free when you use the bow to stalk and kill a beast or monster that is a challenge for you. It is Cloud-Blending Camouflage, and it causes the color to leech out of the weapon and the user until you become invisibile, allowing you to make a Stealth check and reroll a bunch of failed dice on it. However, it is only usable if you are above the people you want to hide from, though any elevated position is enough. The third is Drifting Hawk Tactics, which you can activate whenever you make more than one attack while in midaid, as long as most of your shots are targeted at people below you. The Charm keeps you in the air the entire time, and you can spend Willpower to move one range band away from your targets due to the force of your shots. The fourth is Golden Talon Strike, which lets you reroll dice on an attack based on how far above your target you are, and you gain Willpower if you hit. However, you can only learn it if you have at least 10 Archery Charms. The final Evocation is Sun-Gilded Hawk Soul, which turns your anima into a giant golden hawk that joins battle as an eagle familiar. At Essence 4, you can spend its Initiative in place of Essence motes to pay for the bow's Evocations. If the hawk gets taken out, it dispappears and you can't summon it again until you hunt and slay a challenging foe with the bow. During such a period, all Evocations get a +1m cost increase, as the bow's spirit is wounded.

Dauntless is a 5-dot orichalcum lamellar armor. It was made for Zan the Invincible, Sword of Heaven, because his circlemates got very worried over his habit of facing massively greater numbers of foes alone. Arem Bear-Arms, one of his circlemates, stole the hair form a hundred men who Zan defeated, giving them to Zhui the Traveler, who used them to make magical fibers to hold together the armor's orichalcum plates, each enchanted with a blessing from the spirit of love for challenge in battle. To this were added great pauldrons etched in Old Realm, tales of triumph in battle, and also a hauberk of orichalcum to wear under the plates. From then on, the Circle was assured that while Zan would continue to fight against overwhelming odds whenever possible, he would have their aid. The armor now amplifies the natural ability of those who revel in combat. It has two hearthstone sockets, one on each shoulder.

A Solar attuning to the armor may pay 4 extra motes to get a bonus to all attempts to lift or break objects and can treat their Strength as 3 higher to see if they qualify to try doing so. Also, it reduces incoming Decisive damage that has a 1 on the damage roll, and when in Full Defense it absorbs rolled 1s and 2s from attacks by battle groups, adding them to the wearer's Initiative, at a cap of 5 Initiative per round. The armor has 4 Evocations from Essence 1 to 3.

The first is Pounding Heart Triumph, which you can only learn (but get for free) when you defeat an opponent or battlegroup that represents a Major or Defining threat. I think this means they represent an Intimacy of that level that you feel threatened by? Anyway. It reduces the armor's soak but gives a bonus to all close combat Withering attacks for the scene, and each time you land one, you can increase the armor's soak a bit until it gets back to its normal value. Second is Taste of Victory Rhythm, which lets you reduce your onslaught penalty against future attacks after getting hit by a foe, and can build in phantom resistance - that is, if you get hit once, use it, and have no onslaught penalty, it still takes two more attacks to give you any penalty at all. Third is Champion's Fatal Strike, which lets you, once per day, ignore all wound and illness penalties on a single attack against a Crashed foe, and regain Willpower if you take them out with it. Finally, Daredevil Bravado Defense lets you reduce the armor's soak and Hardness while using Pounding Hearty Triumph in order to reduce damage from a Decisive attack.

Next time: Black Wind and Volcano Cutter


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post


Black Wind is a 5-dot soulsteel skycutter (read: boomerang). It was forged in the early First Age as a weapon to terrify traitors and criminals. It has a yard-long blade, and it gleams red in the light of the sun. It has a single hearthstone socket on its left side. Its surface is glossy and plan, until blood touches it. Then, the faces of the hundred murderers whose souls were forged into it can sometimes be seen, soundlessly screaming beneath the red and black. It was first wielded by the Night Caste Shih Azen, veteran of the Niobraran war, in the days before the Solars had completely conquered the world. Many saboteurs and assassins fell under the low keening blade of Black Wind. Shih Azen hunted traitor gods, mortal conspiracies, prehuman cannibal cultists and Exalted criminals, and those who inherited the blade after him continued this tradition of vicious, deadly justice until the Usurpation. Since then, it has been in the hands of assassins. It was sealed away 110 years ago by the master killer Sesus Choran, who hid it in a cave deep in a frozen Northern Demesne, warded behind ropes washed in sacred oils and hung with prayer strips. He was convinced that the blade wanted him dead, resenting being wielded by a Dragon-Blood, and could no longer bring himself to use it, for fear that it would kill him.

A Solar that attunes to Black Wind finds that when it deals Lethal damage on a Decisive attack, the arc of blood it trails in the air becomes a frozen blade that arcs with it, increasing the damage of its Withering attacks. All of its blood blades evaporate into red-black Essence after the blade is not thrown for two consecutive turns, and it can have no more than five blood blades at once. This benefit is, obviously, not gained from damage dealt to bloodless foes. The skycutter has five Evocations from Essence 1 to 4.

The first Charm is Life-Drinking Resurgence, which you can't buy but instead get for free the first time you use Black Wind to kill a non-trivial foe in direct support of a Major or Defining Principle. It permanently enhances the blade, so that whenever it kills a non-trivial foe with a Decisive attack, it gains two blood blades, not one. The second is Dark Life Detection, which you gain for free when you successfully investigate a killer and then kill them with Black Wind. It gives you a bonus to all Awareness rolls to detect the main target of any investigation you take via evidence-gathering actions and to all Investigation rolls to examine or find evidence left by a serial killer (as determined by the GM). Third is Seven Traumas Technique, which you cannot buy with XP but instead get for free when you use Black Wind to kill someone whose death satisfied both a Defining Principle and a Defining Tie simultaneously. It lets you expend some of your blood blades to increase a Decisive attack's damage.

Fourth is Errant Orbit Scythe, which can't be bought with XP but you get for free the first time you get 5 blood blades at once after hitting Essence 3. It lets you expend your blood blades to make multiple Withering attacks at once. The final Charm is Soul-Reaving Release, which you can't buy with XP but instead get free when you use Black Wind to kill a serial killer whose killings offend or defy one of your Major or Defining Principles, and it can only be used at the "definitive conclusion" of a successful investigation. What it does is let you throw the weapon into the sky. If the culprit is within ten miles, the blade will try to murder them. If they are a trivial foe and outdoors, it returns with blood blades and some severed body parts (usually including hte head) trailing after it. If they aren't and it can't kill them in one blow, it either returns with only blood blades and maybe a severed limb or it returns empty-handed. If the target is well-guarded, indoors or otherwise inaccessible, it returns with some evidence of their location. This is not a rolled attack unless the target is a PC or very important NPC. At Essence 5+, if you know your target is a powerful supernatural being or too well-guarded, then instead, you may draw out the souls of the 100 murderers in the blade, causing them to manifest as 100 blood blades in Black Wind's wake, which smash down onto walls and ceilings, kill guards and otherwise clear a path for the blade to attack the murderer. You must then kill 100 murderers with Black Wind before you can use this ultimate power again.

Volcano Cutter is a 5-dot red jade grand daiklave ('really fucking big sword'). It was made by the Twilight Urashai, who spent long years contemplating the power of the Solars and yet also the danger of the terrible foes they had to fight. He sought out a powerful Eastern demesne at the bottom of a natural bore, where he built a Manse from sun-heated metal and smoking stones to channel the elemental power of fire into a forge, for the sole purpose of making a single weapon. He warded himself with many powers to prevent the heat from destroying him in his inverted volcano-manse, and he forged the most destructive fire daiklave produced in the First Age, his final answer to monsters. When it was completed, he dismanted the forge and rebuilt the Manse into a temple to house and feed the power of his creation. Volcano Cutter proved a wild blade, unruly in the hands of any but a Solar, and even then only giving its full power to those whose technique was equal to its love of destruction. After it turned a hundred battlefields to ash in the process of the taming of Creation, it was returned to its temple-manse, where it still remains. Only one being dwells there now, the spirit of earth and flame named Javarajati, who was conjured to be its attendant and seeks to return the blade home when its owner dies. She has done this five times since the Solars passed from the world, and none of those five wielders were equal to the blade. Volcano Cutter's core is polished white jade with orichalcum bands, and the blade is a massive, single-edged piece of red jade that tapers to a curving point, with a second grip mounted on the back for control when stabbing or slashing in close quarters or to more easily stab the earth and draw it back out. The blade has two hearthstone sockets, one on each grip.

A Solar that attunes to Volcano Cutter gets its first Evocation free, and may spend 3 extra motes when attuning to be able to gain additional Initiative on any Withering attack made with the weapon that has no 1s in the roll. The sword has 5 Evocations, from Essence 1 to 4. The first Charm is Grand Eruption. Once learned, each time you attack with Volcano Cutter, the blade gains motes for each 10 rolled and each set of 7, 8, 9 and 10 rolled. It can store no more than 10 motes, and these can only be used to activate Grand Eruption; you cannot use your own motes to do so. The Charm causes the blade to glow with power as you stab it into the ground and send forth a pulse of elemental Essence, causing a fiery eruption under a foe. You can choose if this is a Withering or Decisive attack, but it knocks the foe prone if it hits, and it can only be used if you and the target are both on the ground or the first floor of a building. The attack leaves behind a field of steaming, burning, volatile ground that fills an entire range band. This is an eruption point, and it lasts the entire scene. Eruption points build Initiative whenever you make a Withering attack with Volcano Cutter, capping at 25 Initiative. Anyone that enters an eruption point with 5+ Initiative immediately takes its full Initiative as Decisive Lethal damage, as the point erupts into a pillar of flame, resetting to 3 Initiative. Eruption points burn incidental scenery above them and may detonate to damage tactically important scenery if put under them by other Evocations.

The second Evocation is Pregnant Flame Exhumation. You sweep Volcano Cutter across the ground to gather up essence, then use it to hit someone. You can use this whenever you step into an eruption point, drawing it into Volcano Cutter before it detonates. If you do, your next DEcisive attack gets extra damage based on the eruption point's Initiative. The blade can contain only one eruption point at a time. Third is Magma Burial. You strike the ground of an eruption point with the blade, causing a controlled Essence geyser that sends you into the air towards your foes. You use this when you step into an Eruption Point, preventing it from detonting and instead moving up to 2 range bands to make a Decisive attack on whoever you like thee when you land. If you hit, the target goes prone, and either way you touch the blade to the ground and place the eruption point wherever you landed, though it cannot detonate until after your next turn. If you use this on an eruption point with 15+ Initiative, you leave it in place where you started as well, though it resets to 3 Initiative, and the new point you make starts at 3 Initiative.

Fourth is Caldera Reconfiguration Stance, which can only be used once per scene and only if two or more eruption points exist on the field. You roll Melee and then shift any eruption points anywhere within six range bands of you up to two range bands in any direction. Those caught beneath the new locations must make a reflexive Dodge check against your roll to avoid the points and move out of the way. You also may create a new eruption point at 0 Initiative, splitting it off from one of the relocating points. Finally, Pyroclastic Holocaust Judgment, which can only be used if there are at least five eruption points on the field with at least 25 Initiative total between them, and no more than 3 range bands seperating them, and you must be in Medium range of at least one of the points. If more 25-Initiative points exist within 2 range bands of the primary detonation chain, they go off too. And what the Charm does is cause you to call on the temple-manse's power, plunging Volcano Cutter into the ground. The ground under each eruption point shines, then explodes. EAch affected point expldoes, hearling fire and lava four range bands into the sky and hitting everything in Short range around them and all range bands between affected points. Trivial foes and incidental scenry are obliterated, while non-Exalted foes of significance take 40 dice of Lethal and Exalts take 25 dice of Lethal. However, this power drain damages the temple-manse, and the Charm cannot be used again until the manse is repaired. If left to work alone, Javarajti can repair the damage in a season, but it can be done much faster with a geomantic architect's help.

The End

Join me next time for Arms of the Chosen!