Ink Monkey Bones #5: Modern Lunar Charms

I found a happy surprise in my inbox yesterday. Fellow freelancer Robert Vance had some 2e material that he’d gotten approved by the developers, and he wanted to know if I’d be willing to post it on my blog. Would I? Of course!

Please enjoy the following guest post. Take it away, Robert!


Sometimes, material get cut because of the restrictions of word count. Other times, they are cut because of the even crueler restrictions of linear time! This is the case of the latter—a whole bunch of Charms that I wrote for Lunars in the Exalted Modern shard, but way after the final draft for Shards of the Exalted Dream had been sent in. While they’re geared for the Modern shard’s world of intrigue, gunplay, and car chases, a lot of them should fit nicely into other shards or the default Creation.

Dexterity

Crossfire Guardian Vigilance

Cost: 2m; Mins: Dexterity 3, Essence 2; Type: Reflexive
Keywords: Combo-OK
Duration: One action
Prerequisite Charms: Golden Tiger Stance

Coming between the sights of a Lunar marksman spells death for his enemies–but for his allies, there is no safer place to stand. The Lunar can parry attacks with Archery, Firearms, or Thrown until his next action. His Parry DV is equal to ([Dexterity + appropriate Ability + Accuracy] ÷ 2). Crossfire Guardian Vigilance is compatible with the Defend Other action, and extends their range to (Dexterity x 2) yards.

In settings that do not feature guns or other firearms, this Charm is known as Arrow Sentinel Technique, in honor of Beloved Cattalesta.

Moon-Graced Gunplay Method

Cost: 3m; Mins: Dexterity 2, Essence 2; Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Any Dexterity Excellency

Lunar marksman excel over their enemies in both dexterity and cunning, outwitting foes mid-battle with impossible trick shots. Honing their aim with Essence, they can ricochet shots off of walls, shoot the weapon out of an enemy’s hand, or spell out their initials with bullet holes left by a fatal spray of lead. Moon-Graced Gunplay Method negates any called shot penalties to a ranged attack (see Exalted, p. 158). Environmental penalties are also negated, allowing the Lunar to fire in the middle of a howling gale, while balancing on slick ice, or in the middle of a skydive at no disadvantage. The impossible trajectory of the Lunar’s projectile imposes a -2 penalty to any DV applied against it. Mortals are unable to block the attack, and the DV penalty to Dodge rises to -3 for them.

In settings that do not feature guns and other firearms, this Charm is known as Winged Volley Marksmanship.

Charisma

Everyone’s Tongue Storyteller

Cost: — (+1wp); Mins: Charisma 4, Essence 3; Type: Permanent
Keywords: Compulsion
Duration: Permanent
Prerequisite Charms: Instinct Memory Insertion

Urban legends and rumors follow after the Lunar Exalted like loyal dogs. More often than not, the sensational stories told about the Moon’s Chosen were started by one of them. The Lunar may pay a point of Willpower when he uses Instinct Memory Insertion to attach an unnatural Compulsion to the information he conveys with that Charm. Any character who hears it and has a Dodge MDV lower than the Lunar’s (Charisma + Essence) is compelled to relate the information to anyone whom she thinks would find it interesting. This unnatural mental influence is explicitly compatible with written social attacks.

This Compulsion is subtle enough that the affected character’s behavior seems natural, rather than the result of an obsessive fixation or mind control. She’ll bring it up casually in conversation, post about it online, and use it to start conversations with friendly strangers. As a general rule of thumb, the Magnitude of people who hear about the information second-hand will be equal to the (Magnitude of affected characters + 2) under normal, modern-day circumstances. Resisting this influence costs three points of Willpower, but it passes even without being resisted once the Lunar’s (Charisma) in days has passed.

With Essence 4+, characters under the effects of the Compulsion spread it to anyone they communicate the information to. This secondary Compulsion is weaker than the original: it only affects characters with a Dodge MDV lower than the Lunar’s (Charisma), costs only one Willpower to resist, and only lasts a day. The contagious Compulsion typically increases the Magnitude of characters who hear the information to (Magnitude of affected characters + 3).

Manipulation

Memory-Spinning Gossamer Couture

Cost: 8m, 1wp; Mins: Manipulation 5, Essence 4; Type: Simple
Keywords: Combo-OK, Illusion, Social
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Lost Mirror Flight

Memories are pliant as clay in the hands of those who have walked through time and nightmares. The Lunar makes a (Manipulation + Presence) social attack against a character, weaving a story that will become a false memory in her mind. The extent of the new memory may impose penalties on the Lunar’s roll. Success inflicts an unnatural Illusion on the victim that weaves the Lunar’s story into her memories as though it had actually happened.

However, characters receive MDV bonus based on the scope of the memory the Lunar attempts to create:

• Characters receive no bonus against memories limited to a recent time frame, such as “You were attacked by a rogue Dragon-Blood last night.”

• Characters add +1 MDV against a false memories that would make one large change to an extended portion of their life, such as “You grew up in Meruvia.”

• Characters add +2 MDV against false memories that totally change a period of up to five years of their life or effect similar changes.

• Characters add +3 MDV against memories that rewrite their entire lives, or other similarly substantial alterations.

Note that extensive changes to people’s minds may also oppose Intimacies, Virtues, or Motivations if they would cause a character to believe that she has taken actions contrary to them or alter memories that strongly resonate with those traits. Victims confronted with proof that their memories are false may pay a point of Willpower to resist this unnatural mental influence for one scene, snapping back into the delusion at its end. Once they have spent a total of (10 – MDV bonus based on the implanted memory) points of Willpower this way, the Illusion is broken permanently.

Appearance

Digital Phantom Distortion

Cost: 4m; Mins: Appearance 2, Essence 2; Type: Reflexive
Keywords: Combo-OK
Duration: Indefinite
Prerequisite Charms: None

The police are baffled. Security cameras show nothing. Recording devices play back nothing but static. A laser alarm system, installed at an undisclosed cost, is proved worthless. And somewhere, a Lunar is smiling. Digital Phantom Distortion makes the Lunar incapable of being detected or recorded by any form of electronic or technological device. He is effectively invisible and inaudible to any kind of sensor device, and is imperceptible to advanced technology such as thermal imaging goggles, metal detectors, or the senses of automatons.

The precise nature of the obfuscation can manifest in one of two ways, chosen by the Lunar. It can either remove all traces of his presence from the recording, as if he had never been there, or distort and garble the recording so badly that nothing at all can be recovered from it.

Living Cipher Incarnation

Cost: 8m, 1wp; Mins: Appearance 5, Essence 3; Type: Simple
Keywords: Combo-Basic
Duration: Indefinite
Prerequisite Charms: Digital Phantom Distortion

A Lunar’s mastery over his personal identity does not end when it crosses over into the online realm. Weaving obscurity and anonymity around himself, he becomes unknown to the world. Living Cipher Incarnation renders any electronic or digitally stored information on the Lunar totally inaccessible. Online searches for him return only error messages. Pictures of him on a smartphone now appear glitched beyond recognition. Any news channel that tries to play footage of him experiences inexplicable technical difficulties. A dedicated character can attempt to recover a specific piece of obscured information by making an (Intelligence + Lore) roll at a difficulty equal to the Lunar’s (Appearance + Essence).

Should the Lunar wish, he may have this Charm only conceal depictions or descriptions of him in forms other than his human true shape, allowing him to hide any evidence of his shapeshifting powers without interfering in his ordinary online life or media presence.

Intelligence

Argent Saga Upload

Cost: —; Mins: Intelligence 3, Essence 2; Type: Permanent
Keywords: Touch
Duration: Permanent
Prerequisite Charms: Counting the Elephant’s Wrinkles

Shaping protean Essence into a shimmering duplicate of one of his own memories, the Lunar sends it off into the invisible world of information. The Lunar can use Counting the Elephant’s Wrinkles while touching a computer or similar digital storage medium to transfer the recalled memory onto it as a file of whatever format he chooses, if the roll succeeds. He could turn memories of an event into a video file, transcribe his recollection of a conversation into a text file, or create crystal-clear images of anything he has ever seen. Images and audio created by this Charm appear entirely genuine, with no signs of post-recording manipulation.

Digital Dreamer Hacking Methodology

Cost: 1m, 1wp; Mins: Intelligence 3, Essence 2; Type: Supplemental
Keywords: Combo-OK
Duration: Instant
Prerequisite Charms: Any Intelligence Excellency

The Lunar’s fingers tap out a drumbeat of random keystrokes, his eyes slowly closing before the glare of the screen. He is not hacking, not as mortals understand it. His mind has gone into the web, wandering the meridians of Essence and spirals of geomantic power that weave together the countless computers of the world. Digital Dreamer Hacking Methodology allows the Lunar to hack a computer through a hallucinatory vision quest, entering into a digital spirit realm of data gods and screaming machine-devils. His mental projection transcends the limitations of mundane computer networks, halving any external penalties he suffers due to hacking at a distance (see Shards of the Exalted Dream, p. 131).

Within the vision quest, the Lunar must evade traps, solve puzzles and outwit guardians that represent digital security, retrieving encrypted information in the form of jewels or treasure or sabotaging systems by shattering idols or slaying sorcerer-kings. Computer hardware plays no role in this mental challenge, denying him any equipment bonuses he would receive from it. Instead, he adds the highest of his Dexterity, Charisma, or Wits to the hacking roll as non-Charm bonus dice, as he struggles to overcome these symbolic challenges. Once the vision quest ends, the Lunar awakens from his trance. Any attack, harm, or jarring movement will wake the Lunar from his visions prematurely, causing the action to fail.

Wits

Steel Falcon’s Wings

Cost: 5m; Mins: Wits 3, Essence 2; Type: Reflexive
Keywords: Combo-OK
Duration: One scene
Prerequisite Charms: None

Whether it is on the wings of falcons or the supersonic engines of cutting edge military aircraft, the Chosen of the Moon take to the skies as if born to them. The Lunar’s incredible reaction time adds +3 Mobility to any Sail-based vehicle he pilots, and negates penalties for maneuvering around obstacles or through tight surroundings. His skillful maneuvering imposes a -2 external penalty on attacks against the ship, or a -3 penalty on attacks made by significantly larger vessels or enemies. In a chase, Steel Falcon’s Wings negates the increase difficulty for taking the Close In action.

In settings that do not feature modern aircraft or spacecraft, this Charm is known as Iron Kraken Admiralty. The prowess of Lunar pilots extends even to the storm-tossed waves and the depths of the sea.

Concrete Jungle Instincts

Cost: –; Mins: Wits 3, Essence 3; Type: Permanent
Keywords: None
Duration: Permanent
Prerequisite Charms: Lodestone Reckoning Manner

Only fools believe that the Lunar Exalted are simple savages to be confounded by traffic lights or city grids. While using Lodestone Reckoning Manner, the Lunar intuitively senses the presence and shape of roads, alleyways, sidewalks, and similar urban pathways out to a range of (Wits x 100) yards, effectively giving him a “mental map” of his surroundings. He also gains a feeling for the tenor of urban areas, giving him a general sense of what each area is used for. This intuition counts as perfect equipment for navigating through urban environments or tracking other characters through them, adding three automatic successes instead of a dice bonus. It also negates any penalties to those actions from being in a strange or unfamiliar area. In a chase through urban surroundings, the bonuses of this Charm also apply on Cunning Maneuver or Hide actions that are stunted in a way that takes advantage of the Lunar’s mental mapping.

In settings that do not feature modern or futuristic city environments, this Charm is known as Scurrying Rat Wisdom.

Metal Moon-Beast Awakening

Cost: 8m, 1wp; Mins: Wits 4, Essence 3; Type: Simple
Keywords: Combo-Basic, Merged, Obvious, Touch
Duration: One scene
Prerequisite Charms: Pumpkin Chariot Prana

Wisps of silver Essence flare out from the Lunar, coalescing into a hazy outline of his spirit shape before entering into a vehicle he owns, awakening it as a great machine-beast. Metal ripples and warps as the vehicle takes on a hybrid form, combining elements of the original machine with aspects of the Lunar’s spirit shape. Vehicles animated by this Charm do not become independent characters with their own traits, but act semi-autonomously under the Lunar’s control. The transformation has the following effects:

• The Lunar can make piloting rolls to control the vehicle in combat as a reflexive action.

• The vehicle’s monstrous hybrid features grants it an attack with the statistics of a moonsilver daiklave. A car’s grille might split open into a fanged maw; a jet fighter might grow razor-sharp metal talons; a submarine might extend numerous mechanical tentacles. The roll to attack with the vehicle is (Wits + [Drive, Ride, or Sail]).

• The Lunar does not actually need to be in the vehicle in order to make piloting rolls or have it make attacks with its weaponry, as long as he is within (Essence) yards of it.

• The Lunar’s Tell obscures the machine-beast from recognition. Any character whose Dodge MDV is not high enough to see through the Tell is unable to perceive that the vehicle has been transformed in any way. While they still notice any unnatural capabilities the vehicle exhibits, such as steering itself or attacking, they rationalize these away as mere coincidences, high-tech capabilities, or mistaken impressions on their own part.

Knacks

Argent Memoriam Repast

Prerequisites: Ash and Tears Banquet, Prey’s Skin Disguise, Essence 5, Intelligence 5

Before the Infernal demiurges sealed the gates of the Underworld and created the Abyssal Exalted to reign over it, their Lunar mates hunted the dead side-by-side with the Green Sun Princes. The secrets of stealing power from the dead have not yet been forgotten to Luna’s Chosen. Whenever the Lunar successfully performs the sacred hunt to gain a ghost’s shape, he may also add the form that ghost possessed while alive to his Heart’s Blood library. Non-human ghosts may require the Lunar to possess the appropriate Knacks before he can access the forms they had in life.

Machine-Heart Integration

Prerequisites: Essence 3, Intelligence 4

Peerless skinwalkers even in an Age of gleaming steel and intricate circuits, the Lunar Exalted may take on the forms of automatons, constructs, and other forms of mechanical life. These become valid targets for the sacred hunt with the same default time as human targets. The Lunar rolls (Intelligence + Craft [Earth]) in place of (Wits + Survival) to complete the hunt, identifying a core component that he can consume to claim the form. The Lunar does not gain access to any magical or Essence-based powers of automaton forms.

In settings that do not feature modern or futuristic robotics, this Knack is known as Golem-Body Transmutation.

Primordial Scion Shape

Prerequisites: Essence 3, Stamina 4

Mankind is not the only race to walk Creation, only the most prominent. The mysterious Alaun that guard the slopes of Mount Meru, the Dragon Kings that menace civilization from the East, the subterranean Jadeborn—these things are known to the palates of the Lunar Exalted. This Knack makes all of the non-human sapient races of Creation valid targets for the sacred hunt, with the same default time as human targets. The Lunar does not gain access to Charms, Paths, or other magical powers.

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3 comments

    1. As written, no, although that’s certainly a reasonable thing to stunt with it if manse sensors are a prolific thing in your game.

  1. Crossfire Guardian Vigilance: “between the sights” sounds like it means the ally is standing on the gun. Still, nice effect.

    Moon-Graced Gunplay Method: Yar yar impossible shots. I’m somewhat disenchanted with the amount of impossible running around Exalted by now.

    Everyone’s Tongue Storyteller: The Magnitude based on initial hearers seems decoupled from the MDV limits. I’d take those figures as very loose guidelines.

    Memory-Spinning Gossamer Couture: Feels overpowered to me. After all the effort to remove “perfect or die” from the physical combat system, this doesn’t seem to fit – spending 7 to 10 WP to break free is nearly “perfect or Limit Break”. Also, the way it keeps reasserting and reasserting and reasserting itself will probably make both the victim’s allies IC and the storyteller OOC sick and tired until they wind up handwaving past the repetitive scenes of saying “That never happened”.

    Digital Phantom Distortion: This almost deserves a post to itself.

    DPD, the good: A very neat paradigm shift. For the cheap, lasting, blanket immunity to a wide array of stuff, my first comparison is to Integrity-Protecting Prana, but this isn’t just protection from a kind of mostly-nasty thing, it’s bypassing entire aspects of modern society, allowing for a very different kind of character and behavior. Hilarity may ensue at airport screening when the screening devices can’t detect anything suspicious about you, because they can’t detect anything about you, even if the mall cop thinks you look suspicious as hell.

    DPD, the bad: Likely to screw you over at some point. For example, you can’t use telephones or microphones with this active. It’s unclear whether you can use a computer at all. Can you use a vending machine? You might draw sudden attention to yourself if someone is watching a device and the world simultaneously – for example, if there’s a guy holding up his iPad in camera mode and noticing that he sees you in the crowd but not on the screen, or there’s live video of a place being projected onto a local screen in that place, or someone attempts to shake hands with an artificial hand.

    DPD, the ugly: How the hell does this work? “any form of electronic or technological device… any kind of sensor device… imperceptible to advanced technology” etc. don’t describe well-defined classes, they don’t describe the same class of thing, and they don’t flesh out the borders of each other’s classes. I am baffled about what this Charm does and doesn’t work on, unclear on the mechanism (“it’s magic!” Yes, but what sort of magic?) and my attempted common sense interpretation is in gross contradiction to my attempted consistency interpretation.
    For example, if the Lunar stands in front of a windsock (that’s a sensor device, but it’s not advanced technology), blocking some of the airflow, and activates this Charm, how is the windsock affected? Common sense says DPD won’t make the Lunar permeable to wind, so the windsock will droop; consistency says DPD shouldn’t stop working just because the sensor device is unusual, so the windsock will keep standing out at full height and strength in order that people can’t notice that the Lunar passed in front of it. (Does it vary with the advancement level of the windsock?)
    Next up: does the Lunar cast a shadow against artificial illumination with Digital Phantom Distortion active? Common sense says that DPD shouldn’t prevent her from playing Charades by lamplight or flashlight, but consistency says that if she casts a shadow from a flashlight, then she’s also going to break a laser tripwire.
    I could go on with things like pressure plates, water traps, blocked roombas, detectors with no moving parts, but I think I’ve made my point. Is this charm supposed to be All-Aspects-Stealth, Hide-From-Robots/Garble-Robot-Data, or Mass-Data-Removal-Needing-Shaping-Keyword or what? Is it supposed to fail against sensors of sufficiently ingenuous design?

    Living Cipher Incarnation: Several of my complaints about DPD apply to this too. My common sense and intuition try to impose sanity checks on the effectiveness; my consistency and desire to not screw the players over with loopholes in protective charms try to make this charm absurdly powerful for its ability to hit computers that are disconnected or turned off, data that’s encrypted or distributed, and otherwise bypass protections. How much narrativium is in this thing?

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