Exalted Rewrite Project

We love Exalted. We've played it, we've run it, and we love it. Despite all its little imperfections, and even because of some of them, we love the game and want to see it do well and get played more.

The trouble is that the growing weight of the defined setting and the mechanics, coupled with some of those flaws laid down early in the design process, has resulted in a game that is now in many ways a mess and very difficult to derive the same enjoyment from. We want to play Exalted, but some splats are still mechanically awkward even after errata, some splats are still waiting on errata, and still other splats are grossly overpowered and given far too much developer attention. These are problems we think we can fix with a minimum of fuss and mechanical rewrite.

The main problems with the game at present are:

  • A setting that has grown overdefined and over-reliant on magitech.
  • Solars being cast as Lawgivers and therefore treated as Objectively Right.
  • Combat mechanics that lead to unfulfilling gameplay.
  • Lackluster social mechanics.
  • Limit results in sporadic halts to gameplay and is a poor mechanic in general.
  • Attempts at balancing splats penalizes players instead of offering incentives.

The Anima

The Anima is the signature of the Exalted, and their greatest weapon, expanding the reach and puissance of their magic to heights undreamt of. As their anima grows, so does the power of magic that the Exalt can bring to bear, and the flexibility with which they can use their magic.

The levels of anima display of the Exalted remain as described in the Core (1-3, 4-7, 8-10, 11-15, 16+). However, there is no distinction between personal and peripheral essence. Essence use DOES NOT fuel the anima. The only way an Exalt can grow their anima is through sustained use of Charms. For game purposes, Anima will be referred to in stages: First Stage (no anima showing), Second Stage (1-3), Third Stage (4-7), Fourth Stage (8-10), Fifth Stage (11-15), and Sixth Stage (16+). The First Stage anima does exist, but can only be seen with Essence Sight.

The Exalted whose anima is at the First Stage can use charms only of Essence 1. However, they may use a number of charms per action equal to their Essence, assuming they have the actions available to do it (a supplemental charm must still have an action to supplement, a simple charm consumes an action, etc). If they maintain Charm use for a number of actions equal to their Essence, their Anima grows to the Second Stage.

In the Second Stage, the Exalted may now use charms of Essence 2. In addition, the number of charms useable per action increases by one. To increase to the Third Stage, the Exalt must maintain charm use for a number of actions equal to their Essence, using at least one Essence 2 charm per action.

In the Third Stage, the Exalted may now use charms of Essence 3. The number of useable charms per action increases again by one. To increase to the Fourth Stage, the Exalt must maintain charm use for a number of actions equal to their Essence, including at least one Essence 3 charm.

This progression continues until the Sixth Stage. Accessing the Sixth Stage of the anima is impossible for Exalted below Essence 3. At Essence 3, the Exalt may access the Sixth Stage by engaging in maximum charm use at the Fifth Stage Anima for a number of action equal to (Their Essence x3). At Essence 4, this drops to a number of actions equal to (their Essence x2). An Exalt of Essence 5 must merely maintain their level of charm use for (their Essence) in actions. Once the Sixth Stage has been reached, the Exalt is now capable of using charms of Essence 6 or greater.

An Exalt may also use the Focus action, which persists for six ticks and during which no DV may be applied to incoming attacks. This action will immediately raise the Anima of the Exalt to the next Stage. To increase to the Sixth Stage, an Exalt of Essence 3 must take four consecutive Focus actions; an Exalt of Essence 4, three; an Exalt of Essence 5; two.

The Anima of the Exalted, however, is not permanent, and will ebb if not put to use. The Anima will persist at any given stage for a number of actions equal to the Essence of the Exalt. If this time passes without any charm use, the Anima will drop to the next lowest Stage.

In addition, each caste has special abilities tied up with their anima.

  • Dawn
    • The Dawn caste are the warriors and generals of the Unconquered Sun, and their anima resonates with the sudden burst of dawn itself. If a Dawn caste slays or incapacitates a significant enemy in one strike (not an extra), they may take an instant Focus action to raise their Anima to the next Stage.
    • In addition, by channeling five motes through their anima, they may inflict a morale check on all enemies, the difficulty corresponding to the Stage of their Anima.
  • Zenith
    • The Zenith caste bring the light of the Unconquered Sun to Creation, as great orators and leaders and generals, and their anima resonates with the steady shining light and puissance of the sun at its highest. If any Creature of Darkness takes the field against the Zenith, whether in battle or debate (or, indeed, in any contest), the Zenith receives a free instant Focus action that may be used at any time in the engagement. Multiple CoDs do not qualify for multiple invocations of this effect.
    • In addition, by channeling five motes through their anima, they may enhance the damage done to Creatures of Darkness; in battle, they add a number of damage dice equal to the Stage of their Anima; in debate, a number of successes.
  • Twilight
    • The Twilight caste are the learned masters, the genius of the Solar Host. Whether in combat or debate or in their workshops and laboratories, they most greatly prize their wits. Yet, for this reason, the Twilight caste often draws the more attention from their enemies, and so the anima of the Twilight caste is in part a safeguard. If the Twilight is taking an action using any Twilight caste ability and is successfully attacked while doing so, they may take an instant Focus action to raise their Anima to the next Stage.
  • Night
    • Unlike their peers, the Night caste is not meant to shine brightly. Their duty makes it imperative that they remain hidden, and their anima reflects this. The Night caste have the unique ability to use charms above their present Anima Stage. However, forcing their magic in this way comes at a price - the cost of the charms increase by factors of how far above the Night's present Anima Stage they are. For example a Night at Stage Two using an Essence 3 charm would pay double cost. An Essence 4 charm would cost triple, and an Essence 5 charm quadruple.
  • Eclipse
    • The Eclipse caste are the caste of subtle power, their puissance only hinted at by the faint corona of the sun behind the moon, and their anima reflects the quiet way they change the world around them. If the Eclipse is able to convince a significant character to betray or abandon a belief or to accept or support one championed by the Eclipse without the use of charms, she may take an instant Focus action to raise their Anima to the next Stage.
    • In addition, by channeling five motes through their anima, the Eclipse may bind and sanctify oaths in the name of Heaven. Those who break such oaths suffer a number of botches equal to the Stage of their Anima. (Use Astrological Curses?)

Fixing Limit

Limit is a problematic mechanic. As written, it has no effect whatsoever until the character maxes out their Limit track, at which point the game must effectively stop while the character deals with their Limit Break. This leads to a sort of bipolar gameplay which is probably not what was intended when the concept of the Great Curse was conceived.

In order to rectify this situation, an alternative 'badstat' should be considered, different for each type of Exalted. In addition, these tracks will have effects long before the track is maxed out, and at no point should any of these tracks have permanent dots associated with them.

Hubris

The nature of the Solar Exaltation is Power. What can be said of power, save that it corrupts? Power wants to be used, and it will be used, and every time it is used it becomes easier to use it. Hubris, the flaw of the Solar Exalted, reflects this.

Hubris is tracked from 0-10, much like Limit. Every dot of Hubris subtracts a die from social pools, as the character becomes increasingly self-involved. Every two dots subtracts a die from their combat pools, as surely no foe could strike them down.

A character accrues Hubris when:
Using unnatural mental influence.
If they have Compassion >3, ignoring the needs of others for their own ends.

A character can reduce Hubris by:
Allowing Hubris to poison a relationship.
Serving the needs of others exclusively for (Essence) days.

Flux

The Lunar Exalted are, in part, of the Wyld. Every Lunar carries in their heart a seed of the Wyld, and this seed calls to the greater Wyld, and in turn the greater Wyld calls to it. A Lunar can, normally, suppress this, but certain actions allow the Flux in their heart to grow stronger.

Flux is tracked 0-10. Every dot of Flux subtracts one die from social pools, as the Lunar's countenance is just subtly wrong enough to unsettle others. Every two dots of Flux subtracts a die from combat pools, as the character's body twists in strange and unexpected ways. This shifting is subtle, and will not give away the Lunar's nature unless a roll is botched.

A character accrues Flux when:
Shapeshifting more than (Essence x2) times per scene. ?
Staying the Middlemarches more than (Essence x2 days), or the Deep Wyld for more than (Essence x2) hours?

A character can reduce Flux by:
Not shapeshifting for (Essence) days.
Venting the Flux.

Fragmentation

Every Sidereal is actually three Sidereals: Self-That-Was, Self-That-Is, and Self-That-Will-Be, or Descending, Resplendent, and Ascending. It is through this tripartite self, extended across the span of their strand in Fate, that they can observe the resonance of the Tapestry and peer into the future. It also allows them to resolve paradoxes, by correcting the flow of events in past, present, and future. However, the Sidereal can just as easily create paradoxes, inadvertently or, more likely, intentionally and for gain.

Fragmentation is tracked 0-10. Every dot of Fragmentation subtracts a die from astrological rolls, as the character must compensate more and more for her own fragmented and paradox-ridden timeline. Every two dots subtracts a die from mental dice pools, as the character becomes less and less sure of the world around her and the flow of events.

A character accrues Fragmentation by:
Using a charm with the Frag keyword.

A character can reduce Fragmentation by:
Correcting or offsetting paradoxes.

Equilibrium

The Dragonblooded, being Terrestrial rather than Celestial, have a less problematic badstat. They must maintain a balance between their mortal and elemental natures. Too far to the mortal side, and the Exalt will have trouble using their powers properly; too far to the elemental side, and the alien mindset of an elementally aspected being will begin to set in.

Equilibrium is tracked from a central point, 0, to 5 and -5. One end of the scale is Mortal, the other Elemental.

A character becomes imbalanced towards their Mortal nature by:
Going without charm use for (Essence x2) days.

A character becomes imbalanced towards their Elemental nature by:
Going without human contact for (Essence x2) days.
Using their Elemental Avatar(?) ability.

A character may reduce either of these by engaging in the opposite behavior.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Perfect effects automatically reduce the user's Anima Stage by 1.
  • Dragon-Blooded will have an elemental avatar ability that discounts charms of their aspect by (Essence), but also adds (Essence) as a surcharge to the cost of all non-aspect charms. This includes elementally aspects martial arts.
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