Month: September 2014

Arms of the Chosen Playtest #5

We got together a few days back to do more systems testing. This time, we had a go at mass combat. We’d already done a bit of mass combat in the third playtest session, but this time we’d have battle groups on both sides.

spartaUnfortunately, we got off to a late start. Not having enough time for an elaborate large-scale battle, we went with a relatively simple scenario. 300 elite soldiers from Scavenger Land Sparta had assembled to hold off a far larger force of mediocre-quality River Province Persians in a mountain pass. (We put 300: Rise of an Empire on the TV for background, largely because 300 itself wasn’t available on Netflix.). However, to spice things up—and to test out the command rules—we added my melee Twilight, Prince Clovis of Ysyr, to the Spartans’ side.

The engagement was short and brutal, largely due to the Solar’s involvement. As the Persians moved toward melee range, Clovis ordered them to unleash a barrage of thrown spears, which left the enemy vanguard in tatters. Clovis and the Spartans then surged forward from the mouth of the pass to take advantage of the enemy’s momentary disarray. The Solar’s blade carved a bloody swath through the enemy, leaving them ripe for the Spartan charge. Hundreds of Persians broke and fled the field, but while the overall formation wavered, the Persian officers pulled them back into line.

Clovis and the Spartans weathered the Persians’ blows with negligible casualties. They then pressed their advantage, slaughtering dozens more of the foe. The lines surged back and forth, with the Persian front unable to deal any meaningful damage to their Spartan foes. Despite their superior numbers, the Persian line wavered a third time, and this time it crumbled, the rank and file routing and scattering back the way they came.

The results of the battle paralleled those of our previous mass combat test, demonstrating that a combat-oriented Solar can quickly tear through large bodies of poorly- to moderately-trained troops, but only at a significant cost in Essence. If Clovis had merely restricted himself to his personal mote pool, the battle wouldn’t have been nearly so one-sided. In retrospect, I wish we’d played out the scenario using only the mortal contingents, as it would have allowed me to focus more on the battle group mechanics themselves. But there’s always next time!

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Arms-ish Playtest #4

2012-9.25.10The latest playtest was with my ongoing Arms of the Chosen testing group, but this time we put the artifact weapons away to focus on some of the combat subsystems. This will come in handy later, insofar as various combat techniques might be used with (or against!) an artifact’s wielder.

For the first test, Pat proposed another sparring session in Scavenger Lands Sparta. This time, three heroic mortals would step into the ring, each equipped with a staff. The requirement for victory was to disarm both opponents and pick up both their staves, thus holding all three at once. Physically harming one’s opponents was forbidden.

This… well, it went poorly. The third edition combat system can do all sorts of interesting things, but this scenario isn’t among them. It was clear from the get-go that whichever fighter was ahead would get double-teamed, and without the ability to inflict permanent harm, we’d go around in circles forever.

Dropping down to two competitors didn’t improve matters much, as whoever got disarmed was able, in each instance, to retrieve the lost weapon first. While success was theoretically possible, I didn’t want to waste our limited testing time to see how long it would take. I am, however, pretty sure that the main problem was the equal mortal skill of the competitors. An Exalt should be able to accomplish this, as might a mortal hero facing a far less able fighter. And an ally would make the exercise trivial. In any case, the disarm mechanic itself is straightforward, and quite usable under less contrived circumstances.

With disarms set aside, we moved on to grappling. Again, two heroic pseudo-Spartans dueled on the field of honor. This time, my fighter fought unarmed (with improved dodging ability to make up for his lack of a parrying weapon), while Shane’s wielded spear and shield. My unarmed strikes were distinctly weaker than his sword attacks, but I caught him in a momentary grapple early on and injured him slightly. Between his wound penalty and some lucky dice rolling on my part—not to mention spending Willpower at opportune moments—I avoided taking any serious injuries for several exchanges of blows. Eventually I built up enough combat momentum to seize him in a more solid hold, which I took advantage of by raising him overhead and smashing him down through a broken pillar, fatally impaling him on the jagged stone.

Grappling turned out to be straightforward, integrating easily into the cut and thrust of melee. I can absolutely see myself resorting to grappling on occasion with a character who’s in no way dedicated to a grappling build.

Ink Monkey Bones #20: New Abyssal Hearthstones

After last week’s post about Abyssal hearthstones, I spoke to Holden about the new stones I’d written for the Ink Monkeys blog, asking which ones I should publish here. He said to give you guys the whole set! So here they are. Enjoy!


<2>New Abyssal Hearthstones

Elemental_Jewel__Darkness_by_TimeScar13<3>Black Nadir Stone (Manse 1-5)

<n>Once a character has attuned to this throbbing black jewel, she hears the mad and terrifying murmurs of the Neverborn echoing in her skull. This gives her an effective rating in the Whispers Background equal to the hearthstone’s Manse rating. This does not stack with any Whispers rating she may already possess.

<3>Bloodletting Stone (Manse 1)

<n>When an edged weapon set with this dark red stone is used to perform a blood sacrifice involving the death of a sentient creature, the sacrifice generates additional motes equal to (the victim’s Essence rating x 2). See Exalted, p. 316 or Oadenol’s Codex, p. 134 for rules on blood sacrifice.

[BEGIN BOXED TEXT]

<3> Clarification: Blood Sacrifice

<n>Motes generated by blood sacrifice may be spent on anything that requires Essence, including refilling one’s Essence pool, thaumaturgic rituals, spells, Charms and artifact activation costs. These motes must be used immediately after the sacrifice is performed. Otherwise, they dissipate before they may be used. This means that if a character with a full Essence pool performs two or more blood sacrifices in immediate succession, all of the motes are wasted except those from the final sacrifice used.

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<3>Gem of the Obsidian Mirror (Manse 1)

<n>This glassy black stone is as reflective as any mirror. When in the Underworld, the reflections in the stone depict the corresponding location in Creation rather than its immediate environment. When in Creation, the reflections in the stone mirror events in the Underworld. In other realms of existence, this hearthstone increases Essence respiration as normal but provides no other benefits.

<3>Night’s Border Gem (Manse 1)

<n>This oblong crystal shades from dull yellow at one end to shining black at the other. Whenever its bearer leaves a shadowland, she chooses whether to exit into Creation or the Underworld.

A similar, three-dot hearthstone allows the bearer to bring a number of additional characters equal to her Essence rating across the boundary. Characters that do not cross at the same time as the bearer do not come with her.

<3>Spectral Replica Stone (Manse 1)

<n>This opaque gem is half black and half white. The stone provides increased Essence respiration as normal when set into a grave good artifact. If set into a normal artifact as a resonant hearthstone, the stone shatters instantly. When the stone regenerates in its manse’s hearthstone chamber, a grave good replica of that artifact appears with the new stone. The replica must be attuned normally, and it evaporates if the stone is removed from it. A replica only appears if the hearthstone chamber has room for it—unlikely in the case of, say, an airship.

A similar, five-dot hearthstone creates fully independent grave goods that remain intact once the stone is removed.

<3>Beast-Perfecting Gem (Manse 2)

<n>If this red-flecked umber gemstone is set in a weapon, its bearer may spend one Willpower when slaying a natural animal to raise a plasmic double of the animal from its corpse as a reflexive action. Treat this as a sacrificial animal (The Books of Sorcery, Vol. V—Roll of Glorious Divinity II, pp. 106-107) bound to the hearthstone bearer. The stone may only generate one plasmic animal at a time; if the bearer creates a new plasmic animal or the stone is destroyed, the previous plasmic animal melts into fog and blows away, gone forever.

A similar, four-dot hearthstone has no limit on the number of plasmic animals it can create. Such animals are as permanent as those created by normal processes.

[BEGIN BOXED TEXT]

<3> Clarification: Plasmics and Sunlight

<n>Plasmic creatures are not grave goods. Like ghosts, plasmics are not destroyed by sunlight, though they find Creation’s sun unpleasant and avoid it whenever possible.

[END BOXED TEXT]

<3>Gem of the Shadow Sheath (Manse 2)

<n>A grave good artifact set with this dark blue gemstone is not harmed by sunlight.

<3>Gemstone of the Living Corpse (Manse 2)

<n>The bearer of this lavender stone assumes the semblance of a fresh corpse. His skin grows pale and he does not seem to breathe. No mundane examination will penetrate this disguise; against magical perception, the bearer uses (Manipulation + Larceny) for the disguise roll. Predatory undead, such as zombies and hungry ghosts, are likewise unable to discern that the bearer is a living creature. Treat his Appearance as being one dot lower, to a minimum of 0, for social interactions where others would find his corpselike appearance unpleasant or disquieting. The bearer may spend one Willpower to cancel the stone’s effects for one scene.

<3>Stone of Ghost-Lines (Manse 2)

<n>This grayish stone is mottled with sparkling white inclusions. When set into an edged weapon and used to scratch lines on the ground, the resulting lines block the passage of ghosts and hungry ghosts in the same manner as lines of salt (see Exalted, p. 316). These lines retain their potency for one day.

<3>Ushabti-Shattering Stone (Manse 2)

<n>An artifact set with this dull gray gem will instantly destroy any grave good it touches, as though the grave good were exposed to sunlight. If set in armor, it shatters any grave good weapon that strikes the bearer. A weapon set with this stone disintegrates grave good armor worn by an opponent that it strikes, and destroys any grave good weapon that is successfully used to parry it or that it is successfully used to parry.

<3>Gem of Nightmare’s Mask (Manse 3)

<n>This gnarled, bruise-colored stone twists its bearer’s visage into a vision of horror, reducing his Appearance to 0. He is only moderately recognizable; those who know him can recognize him on a successful (Perception + Awareness) roll, modified by any relevant factors (a disguise, not having seen him for some time, etc). The bearer may spend one Willpower to cancel this effect for one scene.

<3>Soul-Carving Prism (Manse 3)

<n>This wedge-shaped stone brightens from dull bluish-purple at the base to a vivid, ugly orange at its tip. Whenever a weapon set with this stone is used to kill a human, the victim’s po soul is severed from the hun. This immediately and invariably creates a hungry ghost. Unless the sun is shining on the corpse, the hungry ghost immediately surges forth to wreak havoc. Hungry ghosts created in this manner are normal in all respects, except that they cannot attack the bearer as long as she remains in contact with the stone or the artifact it’s set in.

[BEGIN BOXED TEXT]

<3> Clarification: Hungry Ghosts of Exalts

<n>The Exalted leave more powerful hungry ghosts than mortals do, for an Exalt’s po soul battens upon her Essence throughout her life, leaving it bloated with raw force once it parts from the Exaltation and the hun. To calculate the strength of an Exalt’s hungry ghost, use the rules from the necromantic spell Links Born of Tumult (see The Books of Sorcery, Vol. II—The Black Treatise, pp. 42-43).

The hungry ghosts of long-dead Exalts often manifest ghostly Arcanoi through which to channel their reserves of necrotic Essence. They typically gain Arcanoi at a rate of one per decade until they’ve been dead for a century, then an additional Arcanoi for each additional century. The Storyteller may change this rate at her discretion in order to provide a more appropriate challenge for her players.

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<3>Void-Steel Gemstone (Manse 3)

<n>An artifact set with this dark stone turns as black and lightless as Oblivion. The artifact is treated as soulsteel for all intents and purposes: it negates the penalty that would be caused by other, Creation-formed hearthstones set in it (see The Manual of Exalted Power—The Abyssals, p. 96), and it provides soulsteel’s magical material bonuses if set in a weapon or armor. This supplements existing magical material bonuses in the same manner as All Blades Cry for Blood (see Ink Monkeys, vol. 32: The Dawn Solution [Part 1]).

<3>Jewel of the Sunset Gate (Manse 4)

<n>During the night, the bearer of this deep purple orb may meditate for five minutes and spend one Willpower to step directly from Creation into the corresponding location in the Underworld.

A similar, five-dot hearthstone allows the bearer to step into the Underworld as a miscellaneous action.

<3>The Necromancer’s Aegis (Manse 5)

<n>The bearer of this brilliant blood-red stone may reflexively shatter undesirable Shadowlands or Labyrinth Circle necromancy spells that target her, as per the spell Onyx Countermagic (The Books of Sorcery, Vol. II—The Black Treatise, p. 43).

[BEGIN BOXED TEXT]

<3>On The Necromancer’s Aegis

<n>”Necromancy-related magics like this hearthstone will likely see revision after the upcoming Sorcery errata.” —E

[END BOXED TEXT]

Arms of the Chosen Playtest #3

We got the gang together again at Travis’ apartment. He’s a professional cook, and despite his awful hangover he whipped up some really amazing okayu for us. When we eventually got started, we picked up at the end of the previous session, with the farms behind the shrine under attack by unknown enemies.

While Icas and Ro were doing helpful things like warning the locals of the attack and trying to organize a fire brigade, Clovis went back to his room and donned his armor, because damned if he was going to charge in unarmored and get killed just to rescue a few additional farms and/or farmers. I mean, these things happen, right? By the Storyteller’s whim, all three of us managed to get organized for battle at the same time. I gave Ro a hand up so she could sit behind me on my horse, while Icas rode alongside on his magic deer.

As we descended the slope, we saw a pale, spear-wielding rider clad in furs emerge from the night and smoke, leading a horde of crudely armed and accoutered reavers. He directed his forces with orders barked in an unfamiliar tongue, punctuated by drubbings administered to those insufficiently vigorous in their pursuit of battle. At his instruction, half of his force drew swords and advanced, while the other half readied bows and sent volleys of arrows raining down on us as we approached.

From "Elric: The Balance Lost #3"

“Blood and souls! Blood and souls for my lady Mara!”

The initial charge went poorly for us. The arrow storm drained our combat momentum, as did our initial collision with the melee battle group. Spurred on by the enemy commander—who killed one of his own men to clarify the depth of his intent—the archers targeted us with another volley. Though the enemy swordsmen were caught by the barrage, wounding many, we’d lost nearly all of our combat momentum. Ro in particular had been left sufficiently vulnerable that the next volley would turn her into a pincushion.

Then Clovis unleashed his combat prowess. His sword sang as he slaughtered two dozen men in a span of seconds. Already reeling from their compatriots’ arrows, the enemy swordsmen broke before his assault and began to flee the field.

At this point, Ro unlocked one of the powers of her blade, calling forth a cloud of mist that engulfed the battle around us. Icas pulled her from Clovis’ horse onto the back of his own deer, and the two rode off into the fog to harass the archers with little fear of a concerted counteroffensive. Meanwhile, Clovis turned his horse to where he’d last seen the enemy commander, and fought his way through the archers until he reached his foe.

The end of the battle was quick and brutal. As Icas and Ro dispersed the remaining archers, Clovis laid into the enemy leader with a barrage of Charm-enhanced attacks. The effort exhausted him, however, leaving him with little willpower and absolutely no Essence.

At the end of the session, Clovis hung back at the edge of the mist while Icas escorted Ro to the battle-lines of the shrine’s priests—who had organized too late to participate in the battle—to speak to her father, who was none too pleased to discover that his daughter was Anathema. There was quite a bit of social influence bouncing around the table at that point, but I had to head home at that point and missed out on the conclusion.

The new mechanics for Clovis’ sword Evocations ran smoothly. They felt like Evocations rather than Charms, and they were cost-efficient, appealing options to spend motes on in play without stepping on the toes of the Solar Melee charmset. Only one of the low-level Evocations still needed revision, and I look forward to testing it out at our next game.

Arms of the Chosen Playtest #2

My new playtest group got together last Thursday to playtest one of the weapons I’ve written up for Arms of the Chosen. For the test, I ran my Elric knock-off, Prince Clovis of Ysyr, who I’d used in our previous Arms playtest. Clovis’ Charms are split evenly between Occult and Sorcery on the one hand, and Melee and sword Evocations on the other. His Dexterity and Melee are strong but not maxed-out. All in all, I’d say he’s about equal in combat ability to an underpowered starting Dawn.

We played out two fights between Clovis and a heroic mortal warrior armed with spear and shield, fluffed as a 300-style Spartan. (What Sparta was doing in the Scavenger Lands was never satisfactorily addressed.) In the first, a fight to the death, things played out much as one might expect in such a matchup. Clovis acted first, dumped a bunch of motes into gaining combat momentum, and soon thereafter landed a near-lethal wound that left the Spartan laden with major penalties. The mortal managed to maneuver out of close combat distance to wing Clovis with a thrown spear—protip: Athletics is important!—and was generally able to prolong the battle with several lucky rolls and lots of Willpower expenditures, but the final outcome was never in doubt.

For the second fight, Clovis faced another Spartan hero in a training exercise amid a ruined temple complex. By the terms of the fight, they fought with sheathed or blunted weapons, with the goal of “tagging” each of their opponent’s limbs. Getting tagged meant not using that limb for the rest of the fight, holding an arm behind one’s back or hopping on one leg as appropriate. While there are no explicit mechanics for such an unusual exercise in the Exalted Third Edition ruleset, the system is flexible enough that the Storyteller was able to quickly and easily generate mechanics for such hits on the fly.

This time around, despite Clovis spending a good chunk of motes to try to get an advantage at the start of the fight, the Spartan tagged his sword-arm right away with an uncannily good roll, leaving the Solar at a penalty for the rest of the encounter. The mortal then dodged away between the pillars to pelt him with spears, all while he was bleeding motes to make up for his ongoing penalties. Things would have gone poorly had the Spartan not made a tactical error; he pulled farther back from the fight because he expected Clovis to try and close to melee. Meanwhile, the Solar was also withdrawing in order to catch his breath and regain motes. By the time they were back in combat range, Clovis had refilled his mote pool and was able to tag all of the Spartan’s limbs in quick succession with a barrage of Charm- and Evocation-laden attacks.

Most of Clovis’ motes were spent on Melee Charms, as I quickly discovered that while my weapon’s mechanics were engaging in the way that I’d hoped, the low-level Evocations I’d bought for Clovis were slightly overcosted, and based too heavily on interactions with high-level Evocations rather than on their own merits. I rewrote them from the ground up for the next playtest, which I’ll discuss in another post.

All in all, this worked out both as I’d expected and hoped. Skilled mortals can challenge the Exalted, but they require some combination of cleverness, luck, and/or situational advantages to win. Meanwhile, the Exalt’s odds vary heavily based on how much of his personal resources he’s willing to commit to the fight. My chances of achieving a quick, clean victory would have improved if I’d spent more motes and Willpower, but in treating these tests as actual encounters rather than white-room simulations, I deemed it important to withhold some of my resources in case the Storyteller had additional threats waiting in the wings.

Ink Monkey Bones #19: Abyssalizing Hearthstones

The following list of Abyssal hearthstone conversions was originally intended to accompany a list of several brand-new Abyssal hearthstones. For the moment, we’re keeping the new stones unpublished in case some of them prove viable for 3e use in upcoming supplements. Any that we decide are inappropriate for 3e will likely be posted here at a later date.


<1>Converting Hearthstones to Abyssal Aspect

<n>Abyssal-aspected hearthstones are rare in Creation but common in the Underworld. An especially wide variety of such stones are available to the Abyssal Exalted, for they are princes of the land of the dead and—in most cases—favored by the Deathlords.
The following list broadens the selection of Abyssal hearthstones available to deathknight characters. Some are borrowed directly from other aspects—as recommended in the “Hearthstone Duplication” sidebar of Oadenol’s Codex, p. 85—while others are modified to better fit Abyssal themes. These are merely recommendations to the Storyteller; they do not form an exhaustive list.

[BEGIN BOXED TEXT]
<3>Abyssal Demesnes

<n>The following list of demesne associations is reprinted from Oadenol’s Codex, p. 48:

Night, cold, sacrifice, pain, black, decay, blood, shadows, necromancy, battle, slaughter, seduction, war, ancestors, subservience, regret, depression, insanity, love, fear, disgust, beauty, funerals, introspection, aloneness, raitons, pomegranates, rulership, nocturnal creatures, swamps, cemeteries, battlefields, darkness, jet, iron, ebony, obsidian, slavery, soulsteel.
[END BOXED TEXT]

<2>Abyssal Hearthstones

<n>Funerist’s Seal (Manse 1): As the Gem of Holiness (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 104), but the bearer’s aura of holiness is tainted by an eerie, disquieting quality that reminds others of their own mortality.

Gem of Injury Sense (Manse 1): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 98.

Gem of Night Vision (Manse 1): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 91.

Gem of Pestilence (Manse 1-4): As per Ink Monkeys, vol. 44: Infernal Hearthstones.

Gemstone of Shadows (Manse 1): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 103.

Ghost-Speaker’s Stone (Manse 1): As the Godspeaking Trillion (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 85), but affects entities native to the Underworld instead of gods and elementals of air.

Hardened Spirit Gemstone (Manse 1): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 89.

Jewel of the Flying Heart (Manse 1): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 85. The stone pulses a brighter red when the edged weapon it is set in has tasted blood.

Memorial Iron (Manse 1): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 92. This stone conjures up bitter memories to sharpen the bearer’s resolve.

Memory Stone (Manse 1): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 85.

Shadow-Hunter’s Stone (Manse 1): As the Stone of the Hunt (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 99), but provides its bonus to rolls involving the rogue beasts, plasmic creatures, constructs and other weird entities native to the Underworld.

Tattered Portrait Gemstone (Manse 1): As per Ink Monkeys, vol. 44: Infernal Hearthstones.

Battle-Fire Ruby (Manse 2): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 93.

Cold Iron Bauble (Manse 2): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 89.

Crystal of the Frozen North (Manse 2): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 86.

Gem of Seduction (Manse 2): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 93.

Gem of Tears to Poison (Manse 2): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 96.

Gem of Youth (Manse 2): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 96. As the bearer grows older, her youthful beauty grows paler and smoother, like an ivory mask.

Impervious Diamond Heart (Manse 2): As per The Broken-Winged Crane, p. 7.

Jewel of the Lawgiver’s Authority (Manse 2): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 106.

Jewel of the Seven Divine Counselors (Manse 2): As the Jewel of the Celestial Mandarin (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 105), but affects entities native to the Underworld instead of spirits.

Kill-Hand Gem (Manse 2): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 89.

Prism of Focused Passion (Manse 2): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 93. This stone cannot amplify feelings of contentment or joy.

Raiton’s Eye Stone (Manse 2): As the Spider’s Eye Stone (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 90), but the bearer can see through the eyes of raitons and raiton-like creatures instead of spiders and spider-like creatures. Similar stones exist for other animals associated with death or the night, such as owls, rats and crows.

Sphere of Courtesan’s Constellation (Manse 2): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 106.

Stone of the Sea of Shadows (Manse 2): As the Seacalm Gemstone (Exalted, p. 383), but only functions in the Underworld.

Survival Stone (Manse 2): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 99.

Adder’s Eye (Manse 3): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 99.

Assassin’s Gem (Manse 3): As the Assassin’s Widget (The Manual of Exalted Power—The Alchemicals, p. 205). Weapons produced by this hearthstone resemble traditional shuriken and are typically red, gray or black in color.

Bitter Revelation Stone (Manse 3): As per The Broken-Winged Crane, p. 5.

Bloodstone (Manse 3): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 96.

The Black Key (Manse 3): As the Key of Mastery (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 88), but for necromancy spells instead of sorcery.

Crystal of Legendary Leadership (Manse 3): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 107.

Death’s Master Stone (Manse 3): As the Jewel of Daana’d (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 97), but affects entities native to the Underworld instead of water elementals.

Discord Stone (Manse 3): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 93.

Gem of Desire (Manse 3): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 93.

Gem of Necromancy (Manse 3): As the Gem of Sorcery (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 107), but for necromancy spells instead of sorcery.

Gem of Redoubled Force (Manse 3): As per Ink Monkeys, vol. 44: Infernal Hearthstones.

Gem of Winter’s Shroud (Manse 3): As the Gem of White Heat (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 94), but creates an anima of ghostly blue flames that burn cold rather than hot.

Gemstone of the White Jade Tree (Manse 3): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 90. The bearer’s skin becomes as white and hard as polished bone.

Jewel of Grave Veneration (Manse 3): As the Jewel of the Desert Bodhisattva (The Broken-Winged Crane, p. 5), but instead of the indicated methods of converting the bonus dice into successes, they become successes within the Labyrinth or when creating an Intimacy of reverence toward some dark power of the Underworld, such as ancestral ghosts, ghostly rulers of Underworld realms, the Dual Monarchs, deathknights, Deathlords, the Neverborn or Oblivion.

Orb of the Unnoticed Predator (Manse 3): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 103.

Passion-Drinking Lightning Stone (Manse 3): As per The Broken-Winged Crane, p. 5.

Pyre Flame Jewel (Manse 3): As the Ignition Gem (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 92), but creates a hand-sized patch of pyre flame (The Black Treatise, p. 55) instead of ordinary fire.

Tenebrous Lodestone (Manse 3): As the Wilderness Gem (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 104), but only works in the Underworld and the Labyrinth.

Empty Heart Stone (Manse 4): As per Ink Monkeys, vol. 44: Infernal Hearthstones.

Fetter-Breaking Gemstone (Manse 4): As the Passion-Drinking Lightning Stone (The Broken-Winged Crane, p. 5), but whenever a weapon set with this stone strikes a ghost, the ghost must make a successful (Conviction + [number of remaining Intimacies]) check or instantly surrender to Lethe. Deathlords do not count as ghosts with respect to this power. This roll is made before the stone’s Intimacy-eroding power can be employed.

Midnight War Crystal (Manse 4): As per Lords of Creation, p. 143. The dreamers may communicate freely while fighting. If they choose to hold back and spar, they may prolong the battle until one of them awakens; this allows for extended conversation—or even social combat, though either can break this by resuming physical combat—and may be treated as one day of training time in an appropriate trait.

Scarlet Polestar Gem (Manse 4): As per The Broken-Winged Crane, p. 4.

Song of Death Stone (Manse 4): As the Song of Life Stone (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 100), but kills plants instead of making them grow. Plants larger than the bearer survive, but their foliage does not.

Stone of Inhuman Beauty (Manse 4): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 107. The bearer’s beauty is pale and cold, lacking the warmth of life.

Stone of Oblivion’s Kiss (Manse 4): As the Stone of Final Rest (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 107), but siphons necrotic energies into Oblivion instead of blasting the dead with holy light. Ghosts shiver in ecstasy as their corpus unravels, while Deathlords and deathknights merely find the stone’s dark glow to be pleasurable. The stone functions normally in the Underworld; it has no effect in Creation.

Stone of Refuge (Manse 4): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 91.

Terror-Spreading Gem (Manse 4): As the Terror Projector (The Manual of Exalted Power—The Alchemicals, p. 206).

Willstone of the Strategos (Manse 4): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 91.

Fire-Eating Rock (Manse 5): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 95.

Gem of Bones to Ice (Manse 5): As the Gem of Bones to Fire (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 95), but fills the target’s bones with supernatural cold.

Gem of Madness (Manse 5): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 104.

Iron Soul Stone (Manse 5): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 91.

The Obsidian Eye (Manse 5): As the Third Hand Orb (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 88), but for necromancy spells instead of sorcery.

Pearl of Shadow Form (Manse 5): As per Ink Monkeys, vol. 44: Infernal Hearthstones.

Stone of Loyalty (Manse 5): As per Oadenol’s Codex, p. 100.

Stone of the Walking Dead (Manse 5): As the Jewel of the Forest Warriors (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 100), but instead of animating trees, it transforms corpses into zombies (Exalted, p. 314). A four-dot version of the stone creates weaker undead; treat zombies called up by such a stone as extras.

“Ask the Developers” Thread Summary, Post #2

The previous “Ask the Developers” summary has grown so large that WordPress is starting to act a little tetchy, so I’ve stopped adding to the original post. Further developer Q&A starts here:


Golden Demon:
Oh, hey, here’s an actual question for the developers: what’s going on with Chaya? Is it getting any wordcount this edition? If so, are you giving it a different take than 1E and 2E?

Holden:
I don’t think it shows up in the core. Not sure when/if we will get to it.


icarr757:
Is Ex3 core at a point such that it can finish production regardless of Hatewheel going in to surgery?

John:
Yes. We are on the threshold of sending the last of it off to editing.


Scutarii:
This is a key question from me to the Devs.

I like Empire building games as a theme. You’ve said you won’t have a highly detailed mechanical system. Fine.

1. what will you have? In the core?

2. how do I, as ST, present the negative sides of empire and running a nation when the PC has maxed bureaucracy, excellencies and charms?

John:
I think when people say theme, they often mean mechanic. A theme in the narrative sense is a concept that is explored over the course of a story. You could do that without actually being a character who builds an empire. Your character could be a government official, a record-keeper, or a military officer at the time of expansion. Through interactions with other characters who are involved with (or opposed to) an expansionist society, you would necessarily be exploring a theme of empire building, and this could in fact be done completely with the social influence system.

1. There are project rules that cover large-scale efforts.

2. Research the negative sides of empire and fold them into your storytelling. There aren’t any macro-scale Charms for rulership. You won’t find any Charms that solve problems, nothing that makes the populace happy, stops famine, stops plague. Your Bureaucracy is 5 and you’ve put 240 experience into Bureaucracy Charms. That doesn’t mean the village magistrate is not an idiot, your tax collectors are not corrupt, or that road isn’t swarming with bandits. Problems appear and you have the management tools to solve them, mainly through social influence, but also through inventive solutions like Craft, and sorcery, or less innovative solutions like declaring war, ordering assassinations, or rolling out to kill someone yourself. The project system introduces complications to whatever ideas you have for solving problems, pushing borders, expanding. It introduces decay, and it relies on your players’ decisions in order to determine whether or not they did something completely reprehensible. Not dice rolls.


Uqbarian:
But at a certain point a Solar with the appropriate focus can probably point at his character sheet and say “I run my empire so well that taxes are equitable and peasants don’t revolt about them (EDIT: barring outside interference)”.

John:
Using a Charm to solve a problem, no. Using your stats, Charms, and roleplaying to explain how it is plausible that your Solar has made taxes equitable? That’s possible, but you are never guaranteed success without some effort.

Uqbarian:
Or at least have a chance of pulling it off (and I’m guessing 3e will still allow this). Ardynor appears to see this as something that should be avoided; I see it as one of the things Solars are supposed to be good at.

John:
There are no Charms to eliminate wide-scale, macro level problems. There’s no Charm to just make everyone love you, for example. You can attempt to solve large-scale problems, and your character’s ethos and his Charms and his ideas and plans all contribute in aggregate to how the project is carried out.


El_phantasmo:
How bigs the bestiary in the corebook? And does it mostly have real-world creature stats (Bears and the like) or is there a lot of Creation stuff in there? Will there be a separate bestiary at some point too in the future?

John:
The antagonist chapter has a variety of beasts for familiars, monsters, spirits, Exalts, etc.


Tyrrell:
If the realm is not really any better than the Roman empire or the Chinese empire of what good is are the dragonblooded bureaucracy and social charms? If there are lots of superhuman administrators how can the Realm not be better?

I guess this is more a question of how it is better rather than railing against assumed impotence of the dragonblooded charm set. Does it produce more wealth for the middle-men? for the peasants? Are its armies better equipped? Are its food sources more secure? What is the end result of the superhuman exalted running an empire?

John:
Your first question is confusing. Charms are not magic spells that make good things happen. If you file papers on someone that will have them arrested by the secret police, and infuse the ink with Fire Essence so that the soldiers who read the order are so offended (inflamed) that they rough up his family, you are using your Charm in a very horrific way. However, if you use it to post a manifesto about children disappearing in the night, suggesting that the local merchant prince has been selling them into slavery, and whip up a mob to go smash down his gates and defeat his guards and bring him to justice, then perhaps you are using that same Charm for good. Charms don’t make a character good. Charms don’t do anything at all. It is always the Exalt who acts or does things.

As to your last question: No two Exalts are alike. With Dragon-Blooded, the result is the Realm or Lookshy.

John:
Just to make that triple clear: there are no governments through Charms. Charms don’t do anything.

Wolfwood2:
While that mostly makes sense, how do you have Bureaucracy charms without having charms that interact with large scale organizations (including governments) and make them act in ways you want?

John:
It is possible to misapply your will to do anything. Charms are no exception.


Lea:
I think we have a tendency to look at historical empires and go “Gosh, that sucked, those leaders must have been incompetent!” But the leaders of the British Empire who were busy drawing a salary from the East India Company and using their lawmaking and diplomatic powers to pass laws and make deals to make the East India Company extra-efficient at looting the colonies were actually quite competent at pursuing their goals!

A long, long time ago, I wanted to write a cyberpunk RPG, and I had a couple of supplements planned out, which would have been called Further Tactical Orders and Mega. The latter would have been about arcologies and corporations, and the thing that struck me about the way megacorps are characterized in e.g. Neuromancer is that they are so big they don’t meaningfully exist and you can’t interact with them; any given corporate person is an individual with his own agendas who’s using that corporation as a pool of resources he has access to in order to advance his own interests (see also Burke in Aliens). The same, ultimately, applies here — very few Dynasts want to use resources of the Scarlet Empire to the benefit of the Scarlet Empire. They want to use the Scarlet Empire as a giant pool of resources to the benefit of themselves, and they will apply their Charms to that end.

Gladi:
I think that British involvement in South America shows, that you do not need that many invasions and occupations to profit from unequal relationships with other countries. The empire of the Realm seems tad excessive for pure profit motive.

.
.
.
Of course, the Realm is fictional entity and it reason for being is that somebody wrote it up.

Lea:
The problem with large-scale economically exploitative empire is it tends to bankrupt the government that backs it while enriching the private interests said government employs to make it work. Perhaps the visible effect of Terrestrial Charms on the structure of the Realm is that the Realm actually profits from the enterprise, rather than grinding to a halt in pursuit of profit next decade while a thousand high-placed executives ride golden parachutes down to rural manors.

Holden:
The Realm is built on a foundation of canny structural design, strong authoritarian rule by the Empress, and a constant influx of wealth from its foreign holdings (enabled by a powerful military) that papers over the fundamental inefficiency of its bureaucratic apparatus.

This whole thing works the way it does because the Empress had good foresight and planning, not mighty Charms. If you look at the 1e Dragon-Blooded Bureaucracy Charms, you’ll notice they depict an uncommonly effective bureaucrat who can cut through red tape pretty well. They’re not mighty society-transforming spells.

Holden:
Being a Solar that is good at Bureaucracy means you are very good at understanding and navigating the complexities of administrative and financial systems. It doesn’t mean you have good judgment. There’s no “I am wise and have good judgment” stat in the game.


Gladi:
Why did Chejop cut the deal with the dragon-blooded that would become Scarlet Empress?
I see several reasons.

1) a prayer battery propagation
2) solar and lunar killing and general supernatural security
3) a big damn army source
4) maintaining connection between directions
5) nostalgia for First Age

Holden:
The establishment of a stable central authority made it much easier for the Sidereal Exalted to implement their plans for Creation through said authority, in the interest of making sure the world is still there next year.


Tyrrell:
My question which perhaps wasn’t clear is how as a whole does the realm tend to differ from historical empires as a result of the significant number of super-humanly competent people in its bureaucracy?

As Blaque characterized it:
P1 – “Good” government is well-managed government.
P2 – Charms let Exalts be really good at management.
P3 – Much of the Realm’s government is mostly ran by Exalts.
C – The Realm should have a “good” government.

I think that the idea that the supernatural competence in the system pulls it in many ways that more or less exactly balance themselves off so that the end product is not too dissimilar to historical empires is, I guess, adequate but painfully dull and a bit hard on suspension of disbelief. I’m wondering if the realm has a “good” government what is it particularly good at? Is better at fleecing its satrapies, is it better at corruption and strengthening the internal subdivisions of the empire at the cost of the higher echelons of the system? Apparently it is better at internal stability if and only if the Scarlet Empress sits on the throne. Anything else?

John:
There isn’t an intrinsic relationship between good and efficient government, and in fact I feel that “good government” is an oxymoron. Bureaucratic organizations are not always there to make government efficient. They’re also there to make it very difficult for anyone to challenge government power structures.


Gaius of Xor:
I may have missed a mention of this projects system before (sounds very cool!). Does it have some similarities with the Sorcerous working system, is the Sorcerous working system a subset/variant of it, or are the two very different things (beyond just what they can produce)?

Holden:
They’re unrelated.

Gaius of Xor:
Wyldly* unrelated question: What is the coolest new Wyld-related thing in the book?

* i hate me too

Holden:
Mata-Yadh, the Congeries of Obsidian and Aurora, is pretty cool.


Gaius of Xor:
In the arena of power players in the Underworld described in the corebook, are there any new faces (or new not-faces) aside from the Deathlords and the Timeless Order?

Holden:
The corebook doesn’t spend much time on the Underworld, or other realms in general.


Crumplepunch:
What are your plans, if any, for non-Exalt playable splats? Dragon Kings? Mountain Folk? Raksha? Can you tell us anything about the order of publication? Any notable changes, in design approach or in setting?

John:
We’re excited about raksha, Dragon Kings, Lintha, and the awesome Mountain Folk. I am not cleared to talk that far forward into the edition though.


MagisterCrow:
So what is the strangest character concept you guys have seen during play testing?

John:
We just look at test results so we haven’t been seeing anyone’s characters.


John:
Surgery went well. In some pain but feeling pretty good otherwise.

John:
To be honest, despite the pain, I feel really good. Like a weight has been lifted.


Wuse_Major:
I was wondering something about the Quickstart. All Quickstarts have the issue where, on the one hand, you want to give people enough information to play the adventure and really get into the game, so you sell more books. But, on the other hand, if you give out the entire system, why do they need to buy the books? Historically, this has sometimes been handled via putting in a less complicated version of the system into the quickstart, but, if you do that, then everyone has to learn a new system when they get the core and the quickstart is kinda useless if you’ve already got a copy of the Core.

So, I was wondering how you guys handled the dichotomy this time around. I mean, I could see a lot of potential solutions to the problem, but I’m curious how you approached it and what your decision making process was.

John:
The EX3 core is a massive book full of Charms, spells, Evocations, setting material, martial arts, Antagonists, and more.


hippokrene:
Can I still beat the Wyld out of people? (As in, Order Affirming Blow.)

Can I craft the Wyld?

John:
Order-Affirming Blow is still there.

Do you mean Wyld-Shaping Technique? I imagined an Exalt spreading Wyld on a bagel. -_-;

vitus979:
Dude, if Wyld Shaping Technique (or something like it) isn’t going to be in the game I’m going to be disappointed. I’ll still be buying and running it, but WST has always been one of the iconic Solar abilities in my own mind.

John:
Wyld-Shaping Technique is there, with about a page of example uses and rules for getting different results.

Odd_Canuck:
Back on the old White Wolf forums a couple years ago, one of the devs (Holden I think but I could be in error) said much the same thing, WST is an iconic part of the Solar nature going back to 1e, intended to invoke ideas of the Hero that has defeated everything and weeps for the lack of new lands to conquer… the solar having the option of making new lands.

So I would be very surprised if there wasn’t something for Wyld shaping in 3e.

I would also be very surprised if they didn’t fix up the gaping wound that was 2e’s wyld shaping being super-crafting.

John:
I was very careful not to make it superior to Craft. You can still raise Artifacts and Manses from the Wyld, but it costs you a lot to do so. It’s much less directly-taxing to make land with possible, rather than guaranteed Five Metal Resources or demesnes, and then go about finding them, and Crafting them yourself. But that still entails all the difficulties and costs involved with Craft, which can be deferred and processed over time. Wyld-Shaping Technique cannot. You need to have the power and resources now now now.


SrGrvsaLot:
I believe I heard it said that mortal sorcery is not longer in 3e, so what’s the deal with (for lack of a better term) thaumaturgy? Are things like Linowan masks, walkaway charms, and Icewalker herd summoning still part of the setting?

John:
There are mortals who become sorcerers.
Thaumaturgy is no longer a shopping list of sciences that anyone can learn. They are distinct rituals, typically unique to single thaumaturges. It is very common that a thaumaturge only knows one such ritual. Sorcerers are not thought to automatically know or be able to access every such procedure. They are truly unique and rare gifts.
Linowan masks and other such minor wonders are artifacts.
Not everything in EX3 has been defined under a system subheader and made available for purchase as with 2e.
The setting lacks for Artifacts / artifice. Such things are incredibly hard to find. Daiklaves are once again rare and priceless treasures, not a given. Finding a whole, functional Warstrider is almost unheard of.

Crumplepunch:
It’s been mentioned before that mortals could now offer a non-trivial challenge to the Exalted and other supernatural threats. Doesn’t limiting thaumaturges to a single ritual effectively kill “thaumaturge” as a character concept in a mortal game? Are walkaways, good luck charms, tokens of divine favour and other minor talismans likewise now considered artifacts along with the panoplies of the Exalted?

John:
It kills the concept if you imagine it to be anyone with an occult rating with access to some odd fifty minor spells, yes.


sakii:
i gathered a cluster of thing i want to ask about sorcerers

a) how does someone discovers that he is a sorcerer?
b) since there are so few of them, is it something that can be self thougth?
c) does a sorcerer needs to study in a lair with a gigant library or can he go on travels and learn as he visits new places
d) demons still feel murderous hatred for mortal that dare to summon them and can wait to kill them since the oaths that are the base of the spell only applies to the exalted?
e) do we have more charms that interact with sorcery and spell casting?

John:
a) It varies. The Salinan working is still around.
b) See a. Spirits are usually involved in pacts that teach sorcery to mortals.
c) Sorcerers can learn a lot from spirits or other sorcerers.
d) There’s no such thing as an enlightened mortal anymore; a mortal who can learn sorcery is more properly thought of as a sorcerer. You should assume a much more complicated and nuanced reaction from NPCs than you were previously taught to expect.
e) Yes.


Scutarii:
Devs: Do you have a vague (subject to change, vagaries of fate, circumstance, writer illness, printer explosions and the like) idea of when each of the splats is coming out?

Will the new splats be coming last after the original set are out?

From my POV I am new to Exalted and none of the original set have any nostalgia or built in history with me so I am most interested in the Getimians. Will I be waiting for 2020+ to see something about them?

John:
There will be some new Exalts present before some classic Exalts. We have always believed that we would make every Exalt type enjoyable for the maximum amount of people.


Fenrir666:
Can sorcery still break armies at the higher levels? Does Adamant Sorcery still break entire cities?

John:
Sorcery starts being dangerous to troop formations at the Terrestrial level. As for Adamant, Rain of Doom is alive and well.


rahsith:
1. will there be more than 2 fair folk sample charms for the core this time?
2.are there more charm keywords so far or less?
3.will there be a point buy system for warstriders in arms of the chosen?

Holden:
1. Yes.
2. Far fewer.
3. Not point-buy, no.


Mr Stabs:
I read tweets about work being done on Dragonblooded charms

Vance:
I currently have close to 50,000 words of Dragon-Blooded Charms written on the first draft (technically second, but I consider the first one more of a zeroth draft). It’s coming along.


Kraus:
The changes that Napoleon made were pretty fast, as were those of Alexander and Julius Caesar, and some of their reforms stuck, but all of their actual empires also unravelled rapidly. I guess that that in Exalted terms, these are examples of what happens when a Exalt constantly relies on their own Charms to drive through individual projects, rather than investing in building super-capable groups of mortals.

Holden:
Charms don’t get anything done on their own, so no. That’s an example of what happens when you design an empire with yourself as the all-important lynchpin, and you don’t live for centuries or more.


Fenrir666:
How much are we gonna be forced towards particular competencies now, if at all? I remember when making my first character, I was terrified of dying immediately, so I grabbed a perfect, a surprise negator, a Gem of Adamant Skin, and sorta minmaxed dodge (would grabbed a shaping if I’d realized how nasty shaping could be).

Holden:
We’ve had playtesters build their characters primarily around Awareness and walk away very happy (and still alive), so… make what you want.


Mr Stabs:
How combo-able are the new martial arts charms without their signature weapons? Like, could I use Steel Devil and Righteous Devil style charms together unarmed? Not including form charms of course.

Holden:
Those in particular are weapon-centric styles, so, they’re not going to be compatible at all. Snake and Tiger are gonna give you better results.

On the other hand, weapon-centric styles go great with Evocations from their associated artifact weapons, whereas you’re not gonna find any Evocations in your bare fists. So there’s a trade-off there.

Heavy Arms:
So, follow up question on that.

In a lot of martial arts epics, you have characters that can switch fairly easily from one style to another. In 1e and 2e, mixing unarmed MA Charms was easy enough, but changing Forms was always pretty unappealing.

Is style switching going to be something you can reasonably do in a tactical battle of trying to adjust your style to your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, or are we going to have more of the “pick a style and add moves from others if you need them” way that we did previously?

Vance:
Switching between Form Charms mid-combat is explicitly supported. As long as you aren’t wearing armor that would invalidate one of the styles and have access to the right weapons, you can flow between styles to fit the tempo and circumstances of the fight.


Ardynor:
Lobbing another actual questions on the devs: how powerful will be the sample Exalted NPCs in the core? Around the level we would see on chargen in their respective splats or stronger and more experienced?

Vance:
Varies from Exalt to Exalt. Almost all of the write-ups are post-“chargen.”


Gentleman Grunt:
I keep seeing references to Halta changing. What kind of changes can we expect? I originally planned on setting my next game in that area. I’m curious as to what general areas have been changed, and what I might be able to expect.

Lea:
Well for starters it’s going to be a lot smaller. It’s also probably going to have a lot less of a superior-nature-loving-hippy-good-guy vibe.

Gentleman Grunt:
Another question I had actually is something I’ve wondered for a very long time, probably since I picked up the first Exalted core book some eleven years ago. This applies to celestial exalts and what not. Given that when a person exalts, they are generally considered a new person, this exaltation seems to have a defined personality influence on the newly exalted. What was your original intent in having this overlapping personhood?

I fear I’m not being entirely clear here, so I’ll try to explain my question via an example. Let’s say that Hojeps is seen as worthy and exalts with the solar essence from The First Ray of Dawn. Is Hojeps still himself, or is he the new exalt and someone entirely different? Or is it both and he suffers from a sort of identity crisis? Does it become a twisted case of Dissociative Identity Disorder? I understand that we, as people, are the sum of our memories and that’s what defines us. But if some other spirit or power exalts us, are we someone different? I also know that if you took the past lives merit or the throwback flaw, you opened an entirely new can of worms.

I think I’m mostly hoping that Holden or Morke, might be willing to give an explanation into their thought processes about how they intended this to work. I can see it going many different ways.

Lea:
We spent some time pondering those questions and decided that any way we explore them is probably going to be more offputting than attractive to the majority of the audience. Like, very few people want to play a game where Celestial Exaltation entails being possessed and overwritten by a magic brain parasite, which is how a goodly portion of our audience is going to take it if we say that when you’re Exalted you basically become a new person. That was obviously never the intent, and we’re not going to say it is. If you’re Sid, farmboy from Marita, and you receive the glorious Exaltation of the Unconquered Sun as an Eclipse Caste so you can make peace between your family and the horse-rustlers the next farm over, you don’t stop being Sid.

At the same time, we don’t want to play down the idea that your past life as a Solar in the First Age is authentically “yours” either, because some people really dig on exploring that avenue of characterization. People who are having fun pursuing romances with their First Age Lunar Mates aren’t going to appreciate being told those romances aren’t legitimate because your First Age incarnation “isn’t really you;” if Sid later wants to go on and explore his past during the First Age as Rax Gal and his tumultous affair with the Sidereal Veridian Shade (who’s still alive and currently serving in a mentor role while building up the nerve to do his duty as a member of the Bronze Faction; oh the angst!), cool, do that. It’s pretty obvious why those elements were built into the setting, why would we want to discourage their use?

We don’t really benefit from drawing attention to the contradiction there, though, so we’re probably not going to do that either.


nexus:
Will the question be something the writers don’t mention and live to the players to suss out for their own games or will it be, like they said in In Nomine, an area of Canon Doubt and Uncertainty that in setting philosophers and theologians could debate and PC can angst over if they want?

Lea:
Attempts to implement explicit Canon Doubt and Uncertainty in Exalted in the past have not produced impressive results.

insomniac:
is that because the concept doesn’t work, or because later writers feel it’s their responsibility to clear things up?

Lea:
The problem is anything locked as Canon Doubt and Uncertainty can’t be touched later, which produces a big sense of I Don’t Care Because It’s Not Going To Turn Out To Be Relevant In The Larger Picture for readership. Take, for example, the Emissary of Nexus. Has anyone been mystified or impressed by the Emissary since we learned he’s probably one of five optional things, any one of which could be slotted into the Emissary’s role in the setting without making any difference to anything else?

Canon Doubt and Uncertainty closes the book on whatever setting element it’s applied to. If you have loose development and unruly writers, it’s a good way to wall something off so somebody doesn’t wreck it later with an ill-considered writeup, but that’s indicative of larger problems. If the developers are on the ball and the writers know what they’re doing and are not possessed by the imp of the perverse (“Let’s reveal Smiling Bandit as an uplifted test monkey! Let’s reveal Smiling Bandit as Dunkelzahn posting in disguise! Let’s reveal–” how ’bout don’t reveal him as anything, chucklefuck?), it’s far better to figure out the best possible take on a setting element, and then write the setting around that. You can even remain committed to never actually coming out and saying what take you’re using, if you want to keep it mysterious. And, again, that takes writer discipline and developers who are on the ball, but we have that.

Kelson:
I think that what he means by “Canon Doubt and Uncertainty” is when the books explicitly call something out as a mystery and then say they won’t provide an answer. This is not the same as just not having an explanation.

Lea:
Yeah, that.

“The Empress is missing and we’re not saying where she’s gone” (and then just never getting around to saying where she’s gone) is not the same thing as “The Empress is missing and we are definitely never saying where she’s gone because that’s for you to decide; you can do anything!” The latter is not great.


DeusExBiotica:
Speaking of mystery and wonder, how much is it assumed that starting Solars know about the backstory? I’ve seen a lot of arguments over the years about whether a baby Solar has any reason to know Sidereals exist, suspect the Immaculate Philosophy is a lie, have heard of Lunars, and things of that nature. What’s your take on that?

Lea:
It’s not that difficult to suspect the Immaculate Philosophy is a lie. Just be like “I’m from Harborhead and I am pretty damn sure that the Immaculates mostly tell us to stop worshipping Ahlat because they’re trying to shut down our culture so we’ll be more amenable to higher taxes, ergo I am not going to stop worshipping Ahlat and if an Immaculate tells me I should, he’s either misinformed or lying.”


Isator Levie:
Chaya’s obnoxious level of painting a big glowing sign of mystery over itself is not something I really think of as validated by immediately providing an answer.

If it needed to be mysterious, we didn’t need to be beaten over the head with it. If it needed to be explained, we didn’t need every single prior paragraph going out of its way to say how mysterious the whole thing was. Putting them all together was just a clumsy mess.

Holden:
The problem with using Chaya as an example is that it was probably the single least interesting locale in Scavenger Sons, and turning it into a Nanomachines Gone Wrong sci-fi plot hook wasn’t a big improvement. It was maybe intellectually more interesting than “weird trees” left on their own, but it also provided an answer that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way on account of feeling like a Star Trek episode, not part of Exalted. Using it to argue best practices in any direction isn’t a great idea.

Ardynor:
Personally, I liked that Chaya went out and said just what the hell is going on in there, rather than leaving “Sealed by order of Maiden of Secrets” before even explaining what would be in-setting known to the nearby region.
The problem with the Emissary was just that the options presented were mostly lame. Not that the options were there.

You guys are professional writers. Your writing is good to earn you money, you WOULD write good and engaging truth behind the curtain. Leaving it vague you’re leaving it incomplete.
Most STs are not professional writers, they are not that good. What they would place in there would be blander than what you would – or not used at all because whatever they came up with can be used without being shackled to existing hooks. And the STs that are good enough to outdo you are also good enough to realise that the canon is not a straightjacket and that they can plug in anything they want anyway.

By writing out the answers, you would not limit creativity. You would only help those that don’t have quite enough of it.

John:
I have to differ quite strongly for a couple of reasons.

Number one, nobody has enough creativity. Once you think you have found enough, it’s time to start looking for more.

More importantly, though—I was one of the Exalted players who saw the blank spaces and unanswered questions as both an invitation and a challenge. I knew I was not good enough to answer some of the questions, but the game inspired me to try. That was one of Geoff’s big intentions with Exalted. He didn’t want us to just have fun pretending to be gods solving problems. He wanted us to really think about how hard those problems would be to solve. He didn’t want to tell the story for us, because he knew that the act of living up to the text would force us to think about the many unanswerable questions in Exalted that are indeed unanswerable here in the real world. He wanted us to be the change we wanted to see in the world. You didn’t find every question answered past day one because that was for the Storytellers to decide. But there are a lot of conflicts left dangling because they have no solution except in fiction. Exalted was meant to open people’s eyes and empower them just by making them feel like they were empowered.

I would not have been equal to this task when I started. But without Exalted, I would not be here. Food for thought.


Irked:
So, let’s say I’ve got a long-running 2e game that I don’t want to abandon, but do want to convert to 3e with a minimum of retconning. Everyone has to restat, obviously; this question’s not about that.

What it is about is setting changes: how drastically is the status quo for various splats going to feel different for Average Exalt Guy than it did before? My biggest question here is for Sidereals – I saw some offhand reference to heaven being on a wartime footing, which sounds like a pretty different Yu Shan for him to be running around in.

Holden:
Implement new crunch, ignore new setting locales/geography shifts, ignore new Exalts and the whole War in Heaven plot hook. Should be pretty trivial. Lunar players are the main guys who are going to have a really hard time just loading in new crunch and getting on with business as usual.


Fenrir666:
Is there gonna be another Shards style setting? Modern is by and far the coolest place I’ve played in. I’m looking forward to 3E’s new and improved base setting, but down the line I think another Shards would be really neat!

John:
If we did Shards, it would be quite a ways down the road. People are frothing at the mouth for Alchemicals et al.


MagisterCrow:
So how much of the Niobrarans can you tell us about? Will we see any details on them and the League in the core book?

John:
Not at all. Almost nobody in the current Age knows the Niobraran League existed.


Gaius of Xor:
Ah, here are a couple of somethings I’ve wondered about.

1) That was a pretty crazy number of Dodge Charms in that one Kickstarter Update. Eighteen in that mock-up chart, up from 5 in the Core. I know it’s been over a year and at least one or two Charmset revisions, but all signs point to there still being a ton of Dodge Charms. As a combat Ability, I know a lot of new functionality may be tied to the new combat system and thus not something you can talk about. But what sorts of cool new capabilities can a character heavy into Dodge Charms look forward to pulling off?

2) I know they’re a ways out, but are there any particular books, movies, games, etc. you would recommend to someone trying to get a feel for EX3’s Lunars? Honestly, knowing the same for other splats would be awesome, too. Knowing some inspirations for them would be interesting on its own, but my booklist could always use some more recommended reading.

Holden:
1) Get bonuses for dancing in and out a melee opponent’s threat range. Enjoy uncanny evasive mobility. Force enemies who try to strike you and fail to overextend themselves. Build on a successful evasion to make yourself harder and harder to strike. Move out from under blows even as they seem to land.

2) I actually like Lone Wolf and Cub for Lunar inspiration, though obviously nobody is transforming into a battle beast there.


The MG:
1: Is the Unconquered Sun a known divinity, like in 2e, or a forgotten one, like in (early) 1e?

2: Do Dragon-Blooded have any particular affinity with “Aspect-appropriate” Evocations, or can you have a Daughter of Mela rocking out with Volcano Cutter, no questions asked?

3: Can you name something Solar Resistance does that it did not do before?

John:
1: The Unconquered Sun has been forgotten.

2: They’re all good with jade. All jade.

3: It can leech momentum from an attacker’s ineffective strikes, cause their defense to topple on a bad hit, prevent you from taking killing damage when momentum is on your side, and it can turn you into an unstoppable killing machine for brief periods of time.


Anaximander:
I find that… strange. I mean, of all the most obvious things to worship, the sun is right up there. I can’t see people all through Creation just shrugging at the big bright thing up there, while worshiping the local spirit of butterflies, say. Does this mean that the Maidens and Luna are forgotten, too? Because, if they’re worshiping the moon and the stars, but not the sun, that’s REALLY weird. And though I know the bureaucracy of Heaven is being deemphasized, I find it hard to see the Immaculate Doctrine getting official support if it cuts out worship entirely to the King of Heaven, no matter how distracted and uninterested he is.

But perhaps you mean that no one worships “The Unconquered Sun” anymore, but, like “Ra the Sun-God of The Realm” or such. But that raises all kinds of other questions, like, are these gods real spirits with a place in the Heavenly hierarchy? If so, Game aside, why would the UC allow usurpers to his domain? If there aren’t any of these gods, how has the faith in them not been fulfilled?

Holden:
Which of these things actually responds to their prayers?

John:
There are a lot of possible reasons for your confusion, perhaps too many to suss out. I suggest you check out 1e’s take on the Unconquered Sun, because that’s the course EX3 has followed.

As a side note: The Unconquered Sun still gets a % of all the prayers to every god “under the sun” so to speak. He could never hear another prayer and still have more spiritual income than Ahlat.

Lea:
Keep in mind that for most of history, the definition of faith was not “Belief without evidence” but rather “Trust,” hence statements like “Keeping faith” as synonymous with “Honoring your agreements.” Much of religion was and is about keeping faith with some figure in exchange for that figure’s consideration.

Creation’s savants are aware of the Unconquered Sun as a mythic figure from the past, hence Perfect Soul having an altar to Him in some dusty, unattended portion of Jiara’s ancient temple complex. But they have not kept faith with him, nor he with them, for a long, long time. To the extent people think of him at all, he’s a mystery of the ancients, some god worshiped long ago and since forgotten. Did he even ever really exist?

Cadwyn:
So, sorta similar to how the Greek gods are known about intellectually today, but aren’t formally worshiped and are seen purely as cultural and mythological history, to the degree that seeing someone building a temple and sacrificing to Zeus would turn heads and make you question their sanity.

… and then some gal shows up, beats up a bear, and proclaims herself the daughter of Zeus. Yup, I think I have a pretty clear idea of how the average citizen of Creation might react to Solars.

Lea:
Not quite, no, because we grow up in a society where you learn about the Greek gods from picture-books in Kindergarten, or animated Disney movies. We have affection for the idea of the Greek gods, or the Norse gods, or the Egyptian gods, because they’re icons from our childhood.

Creation isn’t a place where children are raised with that sort of broad multicultural knowledge base. The idea of worship of lost gods out of the past isn’t something they can contextualize in terms of eccentric people who’ve gotten too much into the picture-books.

Anaximander:
If no one worships him, though, despite the tithe of ambrosia he gets, how has the Unconquered Sun not just gone puff, or become the ultimate unemployed god? How has another sun god not risen (har har) in his place? I can understand “The Unconquered Sun” no longer being worshiped because he does crap all for his worshipers, but not suddenly no one worshiping the Sun in all of Creation. And if other gods have sort of glommed the sun domain, how has he not risen in anger from the Jade Pleasure Dome between moves to smite such affront to his dignity?

I fully trust and “have faith” in you guys, BTW. I just can’t quite get my head around this one.

John:
Well, that’s not what I said at all. I was answering a question with specific context. The person who asked it seemed to understand it. To clarify, though, he is an unknown because worship of and knowledge of him is suppressed, because at some point his 300 avatars ruled the entire world and all of the Exalted, and this is something the powers that be want swept under the rug. It’s not that there’s no sun worship, it’s that the Unconquered Sun, King of Heaven, has been “forgotten.” That doesn’t mean that nobody at all knows about him. Obviously, the Sidereals work in Yu-Shan and sometimes see him. This is just one example.

The “line” on it is that he has been forgotten. Ie, the person asking the question, is he forgotten “like in early 1e” (as per the original question) where he was only worshiped by disparate barbarian madmen far outside the scope of the civilized nations or the “known world” and this all goes back to the tone of 1e and the question I was answering.

Hope that helps.


Proteus:
PS: In case it is limited to yes/no questions, I ask the developers whether Lytek is bigger than a breadbox. 😛

Holden:
It depends on the size of the breadbox, really.


Ardynor:
Oh really.
Did he godspear Thorns yet? Did he erase any other shadowlands? Did he beat back the Wyld?
No. He is sitting as impassively in heaven as he was. The solars are cycling and doing what they want without asking him. Their massed re-emergence has nothing at all to do with him.

How at all is he different from back when he turned away from the world?

John:
The Exalted rule Creation. The Unconquered Sun sent back the Solars. The answer is right in front of you. The return of the Solars means more than everything you just suggested.

“Their massed re-emergence has nothing at all to do with him.” 2e was outlined to specifically contradict this assertion, and every single writer on the line until Glories ignored it. Many did the 180 degree opposite, which is why you see some dissonance in what we are saying as to what you have seen.

ADamiani:
Ew.
Kind of undercuts the whole Sol-is-a-dick thing.
*sigh*

I liked him better as the boss villain of the setting.

Lea:
Undercutting Sol-is-a-dick is deliberate. That was only funny when it wasn’t receiving explicit textual support; a lot of the setting became less interesting when “It would really be funny if this were true” became “Because it would be really funny if this were true, this should be made true.” Lulz is no the highest aspiration of art and mankind, no matter what EncyclopediaDramatica says. The Unconquered Sun’s dickishness or non-dickishness is meat to be ambivalent, with support for people who want to play it either way.


Yo! Master:
Will the ‘Tomb of Dreams’ intro-adventure feature preconstructed characters? Will those characters be the Solar sigs?

Lea:
All ten of them, yes.

(Or at least that’s the plan.)

Yo! Master:
Wait, 10? The 5 old & the 5 new? Or there are 10 new (i’m aware of the new set of 5)?

Lea:
Arianna, Dace, Harmonious Jade, Novia Claro, Panther, Perfect Soul, Prince Diamond, Shen, Swan, and Volfer.


hippokrene:
What is the War in Heaven?

And how would that affect Lunars? In previous editions, they weren’t allowed into heaven without Solar buddies, and were mostly removed from its politics.

Lea:
Rakan Thulio’s war against Heaven involves the Getimians, and largely doesn’t involve the Lunars, who are warring against the Sidereals more in their capacity as the secret masters of the Realm. Lunars still aren’t welcome in Heaven, though, because of the whole Sidereals-and-Lunars-often-try-to-kill-each-other-on-sight-and-Lunar-ambushes-are-the-number-one-cause-of-Sidereal-deaths thing.

Lea:
(By contrast, the number one cause of death for Lunars is pretty much “Wyld hunts,” I think.)


Yo! Master:
This probably got answered at some point already but nevertheless:

Dexterity being the super-stat for combat (& then some) is a problem with many WW games & RPGs in general – while poor Strength has a much more limited scope in what it can affect.

How does that go for the new edition? Does Dex still affect both to-hit & defense scores, while Str only damage?

John:
Dexterity is still the core Attribute for accuracy / speed mechanics. Exalted is a storytelling based game, so the purview of the Attributes are very important. Other stats don’t have much to do with how fast your character is.


John:
In response to questions about the Unconquered Sun:

He has begun Exalting Solars again. He is choosing heroes to drive back the darkness, bring order to chaos, and bring Creation back from the brink of doom. This may all be part of a larger plan on the part of the King of Heaven, or the plan may begin and end at “it’s in your hands now. Go forth and bring righteousness to the world as you see fit.” It is up to the Storytellers to decide which will happen.

That the Unconquered Sun has turned his face back to Creation is a huge, huge deal, even if he stays off camera for the duration of EX3’s publication. The difference being that the Solar PCs could actually gain his endorsement, his favor, or his benefaction. If his face was turned away, they could not.

Ardynor:
So which one is it? Are they independent or are they not? Honestly the only satisfactory tie in for both of those I see is if “turning his face onto creation” meant that he got off his bum and made a new batch of solars.

And are you discarding the plot point of deathlord machinations breaking the prison and capturing only a portion of exaltations to turn into abyssals and infernals? If so, where would those types even come from?

Lea:
You’re thinking of the Unconquered Sun as a big dude who does things the way people do. That is how most of the gods of the setting work; it’s not necessarily how the Incarnae work.

John:
Indeed. One need not think of the Unconquered Sun’s Exaltations as independent of him, just because they are as unstoppable and inexorable in their efforts to “choose” as the Sun is in his efforts to play the Games of Divinity.


Yo! Master:
Which are the MA Styles that found their way into the corebook?

Lea:
Tiger, Snake, Righteous Devil, Steel Devil (this replaced Heaven’s Ladder, which is about using a ladder to beat people up and traverse landscape obstacles, and which was slated as the corebook’s example weird style until John got the full list of backer-chosen MAs and went “A lot of these are really weird; we may want to swap out Heaven’s Ladder for something more foundational”), Single Point Vanishing Into the Void (maybe that’s Single Point Shining in the Void, I don’t remember), Black Claw, Crane, Ebon Shadow, White Reaper, Silver-Voiced Nightingale, and Dreaming Pearl Courtesan.

Yo! Master:
And for an actual question to the devs: Are there plans for more MA Styles (old & new ones) down the line?

Lea:
Yes. For starters, Heaven’s Ladder will almost certainly show up somewhere, since it’s been written and all.

rikalous:
Say, what’s Steel Devil’s schtick? How does a Steel Devil practitioner eat their soup?

Lea:
Steel Devil is dual swords; the name is a nod to the old Steel Devil Solar Melee cascade in Castebook: Night, which was all about wielding two blades at once.


Yo! Master:
Other perennially problematic areas in RPGs having already been covered, like grappling (assurances that it’s useful, not overbearing, & at the same time not complicated to use) & alpha-striking (the whole Momentum approach also deals with that), time to tackle a remaining one:

Concentrating fire

How does the game deal with that (if it does) & how does it interplay with Momentum? As ganging-up on opponents, one at a time, is always an excellent strategy.

The other side of the coin of that is the intersection of the action-advantage of the whole party vs. fighting a single (bad-ass) opponent. A usual system outcome of this is for the former not to make short work of the nominally dangerous opponent they have to be quite toughened-up & because that leads to higher numbers & all that it becomes a dangerous balance between the opponent being too overbearing & actually being able to be fought (particularly in a way that doesn’t involve them making quick work if the concentrate on a single PC). D&D4e, for instance, tried to address that through Elite & Solo opponents, who were toughened-up in a sideways instead of vertical manner, but that’s not the sole way to go about it.

Yeah, there is the fact that Ex has had a less cinematic core, meaning that things like concentrating fire & many-vs-1 (the dangers entailed to each of the many by the sole tough opponent) are done purposefully, at least to a degree. But, as always, this doesn’t mean that the gameplay elements of that can’t be smoother.

Holden:
Focus fire is often a good strategy! Except then you’re not doing much to manage your other opponents, and that can be fairly dangerous.


hippokrene:
Are Luna and Gaia still a couple?

Can you talk at all about how the Solar bond will work this edition? I have heard that not all Lunars are bonded now.

John:
1. Yes.
2. Some info on the bond will be revealed in the core book. We don’t plan on making it a mechanics-heavy thing in EX3.


Anaximander:
Will the Faraway receive more attention (as in, what they’re actually like) in this edition? Creation, the Underworld, etc. of course take priority, but I’m a bit of a cosmology junkie and like lots of different places.

John:
The Faraway (as a term) is going away, and the idea is being subsumed into a deeper look at the realms of Wyld dwellers such as the Fair Folk.


holy_dyne:
2.) How much of a pulp fantasy feel is 3 Edition going to have? The pulp fantasy elements were the biggest draw for me and seemed to have gotten lost sonewhere in second edition.

John:
2. We have been influenced by the writings of Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, and Lord Dunsany.


Yo! Master:
How is movement handled?

More precise ranges, some level of abstraction to ranges but still used, a full-blown zone approach, or something funkier (think the TOR’s non-conventional system)?

John:
A very simple system. I don’t want to get into mechanical detail. No more speed/distance calculations.


nexus:
Will guidelines for creating home brew charms be giving much support in the core book or this edition overall?

John:
In the intro to the Charms chapter we talk about what a Solar Charm is and isn’t. The Charms themselves provide an extremely strong support of home brew, but I’m not going to lie—it takes work to write Charms well, and that begins with studying the Charms that are there to understand why they do what they do and why they were written the way they were written. There’s no “guide” to home brew that’s even possible unless someone is willing to take the first step of looking at the canon Charms to understand more than how they work, but why they work, or why they were written a certain way, and then using those conclusions to write new Charms. If you want a guide to home brew, there isn’t a finer map to follow than the Solar Charm set. It is tool #1 in support of home brew.

Also: The resources at the front of the book. When we list books, movies, and video games, you would do well to read / watch / play those things if you want to understand what Charms are referencing. Perhaps that is a boring answer, but the most true answer any time someone asks for a guide to home brewed Charms is just that: you have to do a lot of studying if you want to understand what you’re reading. It takes involving oneself in good art if you want to make good art.

Lastly: The Exigent hardback will have a chapter dedicated to trying to help create your own Exigent, and this should help more broadly with making up Charms for any kind of Exalt. Nothing really replaces that resource list, though. Sandstorm-Wind Attack is from both Ninja Scroll and Swordsman II; it should be part of your understanding of what Solars do and how they do it. A huge part of it is just understanding the genre we’re working in, and that takes immersing oneself in lots of media. No guide we write can replace that.

DannyK:
Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but I’ve never had any trouble with the flavor text or special effects of Charms; it’s the mechanical effects that are tough, tough to the point that every Edition of Exalted so far has had broken ones.

John:
Your experience may differ from mine, but I have just finished writing something like 120k words of mechanics and my observation is that mechanics are nowhere near as hard as imagining a Charm that should even be there in the first place. That takes understanding Charm concepts, what story the Charm is trying to tell. A misread on that will always make an inaccurate mechanic. A good read on that will always get you much closer to a good Charm mechanic.


kenichi-kun:
Also any hints on whether there are new uses in Occult Charms?

John:
Occult has dozens of new Charms having nothing to do with sorcery.


Unknown DeathLord:
1) Going back to exaltations; does Lytek still exist and have a hand in cleansing exaltations?

2) When Alchemicals get written up, will there be support for Colossi Alchemicals?

John:
1) Lytek is still there, doing what he does.

2) It’s too early to start answering questions about Alchemicals. Anything we say about them could be contradicted later.


DannyK:
Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but I’ve never had any trouble with the flavor text or special effects of Charms; it’s the mechanical effects that are tough, tough to the point that every Edition of Exalted so far has had broken ones.

John:
Your experience may differ from mine, but I have just finished writing something like 120k words of mechanics and my observation is that mechanics are nowhere near as hard as imagining a Charm that should even be there in the first place. That takes understanding Charm concepts, what story the Charm is trying to tell. A misread on that will always make an inaccurate mechanic. A good read on that will always get you much closer to a good Charm mechanic.


Blaque:
I asked this before, but with what we know of the MA styles and demons backers chose, I’m curious if we’ll be able to maybe see what extinct critters were chosen for being in the corebook? Or is that something you’re holding off on in general? (I saw a glyptodon in one of the teaser posts a bit ago).

And stuff.

Vance:
Dunkleosteus. Megatherium. Hellpigs. Some more obscure stuff.


The MG:
Do you need to be proficient with a weapon to learn its Evocations, or could you have an unarmed monk who guards and commands a cursed weapon, but does not wield it?

John:
Learning Evocations entails a deep bonding with a weapon to draw out its power. Unless the Artifact was some weird and unique case, the monk would suck at using it.

Inqy:
Question for the Devs: Evocations seem primarily about bonding with a weapon, but could artifacts which are nominally weapons but were built with a constructive purpose in mind (such as a Singing Staff or a Traveler’s Staff) have Evocations as well? Do Evocations have to be designed with combat applications in mind, or can you have Crafting Evocations designed to accumulate resources or construct fortifications and the like?

John:
You can have Evocations to help with non-combat things, yes.

Fresh Ninja:
How big can artifacts get? Can I have a Baba Yaga style witch’s hut on chicken legs following me around? Can something like that have evocations, or are they intended for person-scale artifacts?

John:
That is more akin to a sorcerer’s workshop created through an act of sorcery.

The answer though is “it depends.” Can you draw power from it? Was it made for that purpose? If not, then no.

Mr Stabs:
I’d like a magic mirror that lets me do mirror-like effects, like creating temporary clones, reflecting attacks, scrying, revealing desires, create short-term illusions of myself, etc.

How best would this artifact be portrayed? One artifact with evocations, one expensive artifact with no evocations, or a series of smaller artifacts with their own mirror power?

Vance:
Evocations, definitely.


Odd_Canuck:
Can you shed light upon sorcery and/or necromancy? Is it still divided into the three tiers and is it still restricted according to what kind of mortal/exalt can achieve each level? That was one of my gripes of sorts with the old system, is the lack of ways around the strict power-tier levels. I kinda preferred the possibility indicated in the 1e story book where a group of mortals was able to summon an actual Third Circle demon with large amounts of time and difficulty at a great cost to themselves, or NOT having Raksi wasting her time trying to learn Solar Circle.

John:
Not ready to explain the system, but I will say that the dividing lines are much more blurry now.


Cadwyn:
Another question about the 3E Underworld: Silent as the grave, or noisy as the restless dead?

Vance:
Not easily reduced to a homogenous description.

But there are…things down there.


Odd_Canuck:
Are Mice of the Sun still in the setting?

Lea:
If we wrote Mice of the Sun out of the setting, the collective “Why would you do that?” would burst our goddamn eardrums.



nexus:
The Eastern Direction has been noted as having a predominance of matriarchal cultures but that doesn’t seem to be developed much even to have slipped by the wayside like some other things from early 1st. Will that be explored more in the new edition, dropped or something else?

Holden:
Explored more. Ditto the Blessed Isle’s matriarchy.

Huntress:
So less hare-brained “Glass Ceiling” sidebar, followed by giving a lot of the top jobs to men and pointing out some of the few women (Tepet Lisara and Ragara Feria) essentially slept their way to the top?

John:
That information is all completely incorrect and we’re going to make sure it is corrected in EX3.

Mind you, the Empress is a sexist, and the Dynasty is a sexist society, but the advantage is for women and against men.

HardKore Keltoid:
Well, the stuff about women being too precious for fighting is obviously bullshit. rapidly approaching PRATT. The stuff about everyone in Creation having weapons training might not be.

Holden:
No, that’s not even remotely true.

HardKore Keltoid:
Maybe “everyone” is a bit of a stretch. There are still fat-cat merchants. clueless dandies and citizens of the Isle, who aren’t rich enough to take up swordplay as a hobby. The further out you get in the Threshold, though, the more you’re likely to see populations where spear training is just a thing we do in case things happen.

Holden:
Generally speaking, you call that a militia.

Lea:
Human sexual dimorphism in Creation is essentially the same as on Earth.

You don’t need a statistical majority of tough thug-inclined women to put them in the art, and for that matter, if you’ve had personal experiences with such women, you don’t need to have known a statistical majority of them for them to loom large in your thoughts when you picture thugs.

Also? Not all thugs are physically huge. It’s largely about attitude, and if someone is getting more up in your face than you feel comfortable with, you will be inclined to perceive them as bigger than they are. Stereotypical thuggish physique may be realistically more prevalent in men than in women, but stereotypically thuggish attitude can be found distributed equally across all genders and sexualities.

(Armies, of course, are a different matter — a good soldier can march long distances, survive illness caught in the field, subsist on poor supplies, catch sleep when it’s available, build fortifications, and hold territory. You don’t need a statistical advantage in upper body strength to do those things.)

mindstalk:
Maybe, but then if the legions are looking for exceptionally strong and tall individuals, that’d tip things even more to male preference. People say the averages aren’t that far apart, which is true, but out at the tails the ratios get much bigger. If you want 6-foot soldiers, they’re pretty much going to all be male.

Holden:
Realm tactical doctrine holds that the Delzahn, despite being a huge warlike nomadic horde, has never managed to hold more than a single city because of their indefensibly stupid practice of excluding half their population from military service*. You know what you don’t need to be huge and burly to do? Be a slinger or archer. Shore up a pike block. Act as light (or heavy) cavalry. Lock in a shield wall. Ride in a scouting screen. Harry flanks as a dragoon. Or smash down a rebellious peasant militia in head-on combat.

Big gleaming sweaty pecs are for barbarian screamers, which the legions eat for breakfast.

*This isn’t actually true– it’s more because the Delzahn are more interested in accumulating wealth than territory, and because most of their khans know perfectly well that once they take a city, the Realm, Paragon, or some other regional power that is vastly better at siege warfare than they are can come clean their clocks and take it away. Thus the emphasis on carrying off loot rather than conquest. But still, the general outlook from the Realm is “an army that is twice is big will beat the other army, barring exceptional circumstances.” This is also the general outlook for most of Creation.

Victim:
It seems like an unusual and very unstable society that would have over 50% of their population militarized and in front line roles, so it’s not like countries are going to be down on soldiers by not including a significant proportion of female warriors (unless their backs are totally against the wall). Including both halves of the population for potential front line combat service isn’t going to double the number troops in the field, because societies generally need lots of people doing everything else – there’s only so many people you can send off to fight without other stuff collapsing. Especially for the Realm, since they’re often deploying on the other side of an ocean and fielding some heavier stuff than many other countries (do they still have some warstriders in military units?), so their need for support structures would be considerable.

Lea:
This is generally true — the limiter on how many troops you can field is supplies and logistics and how many people your society can spare before collapsing — societies that field more women will end up fielding less men as a result, just because increasing your pool of potential recruits by 50% doesn’t increase the number of troops you can field by an equal amount.

That said, Creation mostly lacks systemic and cultural bias against fielding women as soldiers for reasons unrelated to that, and the Dynasty certainly looks at a culture like the Delzahn and goes “What are they, idiots? They can only field half as many soldiers!” because it’s a quick, quippy thing they can say to reassure themselves that their own culture is superior to the backwards barbarian culture they’re ridiculing. (Note: According to the Realm, every culture except the Realm is a backwards barbarian culture.)


Tyrrell:
We’ve been spoiled that the “intimacy system” (is that the correct word?) can be used to influence combat. Does this take charms, or are there game mechanics to allow my heroic mortal to exploit the emotional ties of his opponents to gain some advantage even in the midst of swordplay?

John:
Think of it less as “can I use mechanic A to mess with mechanic B” and more of “can I convince this character to stop attacking me, to attack me, and so on?” and the answer is “if it makes sense, the social influence system will reflect how convincing you are and by how much they are convinced.


Bersagliere Gonzo:
Was Spinosaurus chosen as one of the creatures that will be included in the core? Have you considered the latest modifications to its reconstruction? Cause now it really looks like a “river dragon”.

Holden:
It was not, surprisingly. Everyone went for various prehistoric beasties that were not actually dinosaurs.


sakii:
a question about the new ox body
can you give us an example or some reference to what ox body x5 would do?

Holden:
It makes you hard as fuck to kill, and means you fight through injuries like a Bleach character.

Odd_Canuck:
Related to that, how good is the average person in Creation at actually fighting?

Holden:
0-1 in the classic Dawn Abilities.


The MG:
Will the corebook support beastmen and other weirdos as playable characters, mutations and all?

Vance:
Yeah. If you want to play a bearman or a vultureman or whatever you can do that.


insomniac:
Sort of a macabre question, but what the hell: plenty of ancient societies, including Rome, made a pretty regular practice of public execution and displaying corpses as a warning to others.

In Creation, do hungry ghosts put a damper on this, or does the threat of dead rebels killing the living out after dark make a part of the effect?

Vance:
If you want to have gallows or something, I imagine there’s a funerary ritual for the condemned that puts the souls of criminals to rest after their execution, in the same way an ordinary funeral does for an ordinary dead guy. Of course, if he happened to be innocent, you might have to deal with a hungry ghost.

Lea:
I’m sure the Realm has some systemic way to prevent the rising of hungry ghosts when it comes time to crucify 10% of the populace along the roads to make a point. Possibly not cost-effective when applied on a smaller scale? I dunno.


Delgarde:
And it probably did create a lot of Shadowlands. But the circumstances afterwards were kind of unique too, with the Wyld pouring in bringing chaotic energies… for all the damage the Crusade did, it also brought a kind of life, which might have prevented the dead places from sinking into the Underworld…

CowboyEnergy:
That’s part of why the Dowager was so pissed off at the Deathlord that withdrew the oaths that prevented the Raksha from attacking. They were literally THIS CLOSE to destroying everything, but then they interfered and the Wyld counteracted the Contagion.

Lea:
I can’t say I ever really cared for that “reveal,” since I’m pretty sure it was never intended before it was written up for Abyssals 2e. “Contagion killed 90% of everything, then Crusade fucked up the infrastructure and a lot of created lands” becoming “Contagion killed 90% of everything and would have killed 100%, but then Crusade coincidentally cured it, ironically saving the very world it had hoped to destroy and ruining the plans of the very Deathlords who had hoped it would complete the plans of!” kinda made me go “Really? You needed to draw that connection? For the sake of dramatic irony?”

Also nobody’s going to not worry about making a thousand hungry ghosts on the grounds that a Legion can kill a thousand hungry ghosts. I am very much on the side of “The Realm can crucify ten thousand slaves along a major thoroughfare to make a point,” but “…because they can just have their armies kill the hungry ghosts that might result from this” is not the justification I would use.

Lea:
Okay, so I was listening to the Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast about the Carthaginian Wars in Rome, specifically Hannibal’s campaign following his crossing of the Alps. With the elephants. You know the story.

There was one particular battle that happened following this, which ended up being one of the worst battles of Roman history. Hannibal showed up early well-prepared, the Roman commander showed up sorta unprepared, Hannibal pulled some brilliant fuckery with cavalry in the wings, and the end result was the Roman army was completely encircled by the Carthaginian army, with no avenue of escape. And the Carthaginians just sort of tightened the circle, killing every Roman soldier they could, repelling desperate attempts by the Romans in the center to break through the Carthaginian wall of beefy dudes with swords.

It took all Goddamn afternoon.

A whole afternoon of Carthaginians closing into a tighter and tighter circle, and Romans dying. All the Romans dying. At some point, advancing Carthaginians started coming upon the corpses of Roman soldiers who’d committed suicide by burying their heads in the dirt of the battlefield, because those soldiers had spent multiple hours in that circle of advancing steel, knowing what was coming. This wasn’t an army of WWI trench warriors who were used to being shelled for days at a time, either — soldiers at that time weren’t used to that level of stress over that length of time, certain death advancing but still hours off, surrounded by the stench of blood and spilled bowels and the cries of dying comrades.

That’s the sort of unprecedented slaughter — talked about two thousand years later as arguably one of the worst places and times in all of history to be — that generates a shadowland.

Not just any big battle.

Lea:
I mean, I don’t think it literally has to be that bad. And Creation being a sort of cinematic universe probably has more battles that go the way of “This will be talked about in two thousand years” than Earth does. (Especially since, you know, it’s got Exalted, who can prance around the battlefield like superheroes turning small clumps of soldiers into clouds of mist and gore.) But, yeah, it’s not a matter of “Surely everywhere has had a battle, why isn’t everywhere a Shadowland?” Things have to get pretty bad for the Underworld to jut upwards and tear into Creation like that.

Holden:
Making shadowlands is neither common nor easy, generally speaking. It’s not something people generally set policy around avoiding.

David J Prokopetz:
On the other hand, I’d imagine the Realm probably has at least a few relevant doctrines, even if nobody else does, if only because the sheer scale of atrocity an empire is capable of when they put their minds to it might make it a little easier to inadvertently vault some of those barriers.

Holden:
Not really, no. Anyone who manages to accidentally create a shadowland in their satrapy is so criminally incompetent that they weren’t paying attention to any relevant doctrines anyway. That’s the kind of screw-up that gets you shipped back to the Blessed Isle to be executed in the middle of the Empress’s courtroom (or, if she’s in a good mood, offered the opportunity to commit suicide by way of apology, and spare your House her further ire for raising you to be so god damned stupid).

Lea:
It’s not so much that the Realm never does horrible things because horrible things could open shadowlands and that’s treason, and more like the circumstances in which shadowlands open are sufficiently obscure and erratic that people who have justified to themselves whatever horrible thing they want to do very, very rarely go “But I shouldn’t do this, because maybe shadowland…” and then, indeed, when they do them, it so rarely opens a shadowland that it doesn’t become an object lesson to the next person who’s justified to her- or himself doing something horrible.

Awful things happen! They often don’t create shadowlands!

insomniac:
Incidentally, I wasn’t just asking about Shadowlands. I was under the impression that a defiled corpse could, on its own, allow passage for a hungry ghost, and wondered how that would impact setting up their own Golgatha.

Lea:
I think that’s probably just a matter of having funerists on hand.


Wolfwood2:
So what I take from this debate is that 3E should absolutely not define the Empress’s character but rather leave it open to GM interpretation.

The question for developers being, 3E doesn’t define the true content of the Empress’s character, does it?

Holden:
A lot of the development of EX3 was driven by my enormous and lingering disgust at 2e’s Return of the Scarlet Empress forcing me to collapse the wave-form and do exactly that.

(Motivation is such a god-awful mechanic for Exalted arg.)


Mostlyjoe:
1. Do Liminals have small secret bases, zones of control, etc in the underworld that they use as a staging area?

2. Is social influence costs flat? Meaning can a starting Solar have influence “Underworld” right out of the gate? Or Influence “YuShan”?

3. Can a Solar in a Lunar domain have more respect/control? Besides having to contend with the Lunar rulers would the locals see the Solar as a monster, or a godling?

Holden:
1. Not as a general thing, no. They don’t normally spend much time in the Underworld.

2. Sure, although I’d never allow those as specific areas of expertise, as they’re roughly analogous to “Influence (The Solar System)” or “Influence (Planet Earth)” for WoD or Trinity.

3. More respect/control than what?


Ranger_Lord:
NPC stats in Exalted have been assigned really arbitrarily in the past to reflect an NPCs narrative role instead of a level of talent/experience relative to a PC. This creates a huge disconnect between the progression rules that govern NPCS and the rules that govern builds and power progression of PCs.

With that in mind, wouldn’t it be helpful, to players and STs, to have an XP value on an NPC’s profile showing how much XP a PC with the same splat would neec to attain those same stats and Charms?

Lea:
We found another solution to that problem.


rikalous:
A few questions about Exigents.

How much metaphysical substance does a god need to survive Exalting an Exigent? If Ten Sheaves had gotten some extra prayer, some more land under his dominion, could he have survived, or is “field god” just too insignificant a thing for him to make it?

If another field god, way on the other side of Creation with fields growing different crops than Ten Sheaves’s, Exalts an Exigent, does the new Exalt draw from the same charmset as Strawmaiden Janest?

If the city god of Whereverthehell Exalts an Exigent, does that make them the City Exalt or the Whereverthehell Exalt?

Holden:
Exigents are sufficiently weird that the answer to most of those questions is going to be “whatever is most interesting for your game.”


Jagermech:
How hard is it for a Solar to “blend in.” Like, a Solar grifter/thief buddying up to a DB mark and they get ambushed or something out on a hunting trip?

Holden:
Among mortals? Fairly trivial.

Trying to pass as some other kind of supernatural being? You’re going to want Larceny Charms.


Lea:
So at some point during the design of the map, it occured to me that Creation lacked Antarctica. That is to say, while Creation has a lot of snowy wastes, what it lacks is a significant mass of snowy land completely isolated from the rest of the world by hundreds of miles of icy, stormy, glacier-ridden ocean, and which could be a grand mystery worthy of Vaughan Williams’ Sinfonia Antarctica, one of my favorite pieces of music. (Well, the Prelude, mostly.)

I happen to know that one of Holden’s favorite movies is The Thing, and his hands-down favorite episode of Doctor Who is the one where the Doctor is trapped in an isolated installation with a bunch of hapless scientists and a monster.

So of course when I was doing the coastline work for the new map, I sought, and was granted, permission to add an Antarctica-like landmass up in the North, up near the coast of the Northesternmost fang penninsula thing. In my original drawing it was a bit bigger, and looked like another fang but cut off from the rest by sea, but I guess during revisions between Holden, John, Maria Carbadi, and Jared Blando, it shrunk a bit ’cause it was making the map look top-heavy.

Of course, when the Exalted forum noticed that Blando had the map up on his website, someone immediately noticed that landmass and dubbed it Frosty Dorito Island.


John:
The Scarlet Empress is a master seductress and favors both women and men. She appears to be making a salacious overture to the Exigent in front of her. It is not out of character at all for her to flirt with women. So her leg is not out there just for show. That is why you aren’t seeing an instruction for the artist to revise it.

To be clear, it was established in the First Edition Dragon-Blooded hardback that her suitors vie fiercely for her bed, to the tune of epic romantic overtures, blood duels, assassinations, and poetic brinkmanship. This is a part of her backstory that we have retained into the new edition.


Anaximander:
Speaking of Getimians, it still strikes me how different they seem to other Exalted, particularly in the Yin/Yang Essence. Yin/Yang has never been a concept in Exalted. Is there a reason for that?

And it’s been said that Thulio “found” them rather than created them, which makes one wonder, of course, just WHAT created them. We’ll probably have to wait a while to find that out, but is it something/someone/someones we’ve seen in the books before, or are they/it new, at least to us?

John:
Imagine something extremely non-standard.


Mostlyjoe:
I’m curious about Lunars role now in 3E. Take this from the point of view of what they use to do in the 1st Age. Front line special forces stuff, covert, infiltration, shock and awe attack, and then such. They were also body guards, explorers, and I guess keepers of the Wyld.

So how does the old vs new Lunars translate in 3E with the War vs the Realm and by proxy the Sidereals?

I’m not asking for spoilers about charms, etc. More, how do they see themselves and what story role to they fit/use to fit?

John:
First and Second Age Lunars are radically different from one another for reasons you suspect and some you are going to discover.

As you suggested, their skill set for infiltration and sudden violent attack has been turned inward. Where it once served the Realm, now it is being used to bring it down.

Mostlyjoe:
Are the Sidereals the only reason why the realm hasn’t been overwhelmed in the war?

John:
A Full Moon on a rampage is a problem for a Brotherhood, but the Lunars just don’t have the numbers to overwhelm the Dragon-Blooded. No matter how tough they are, no Lunar less than a thousand years old wants to go head-on with the full might of the Wyld Hunt, and even the elders are too wise to try to take on the Dragon-Blooded host in a full frontal assault.

The Sidereals help with security, because as far as social magic, subterfuge and stealth go, the Lunars can infiltrate Dragon-Blooded society almost at-will. The Dragon-Blooded are outmatched by the Lunars when it comes to sensory feats, feats of stealth and detection. Sidereals, meanwhile, can focus their Essence to the point that they can listen to the cosmos, the stars, the thrumming lines of the Loom of Fate. They are much better equipped to find Lunars, or to notice them. Their sharpness goes beyond the senses, and it is needed to contend with the sons and daughters of Luna.


CowboyEnergy:
I have a really niche question regarding Gods and Beastmen. Since beastmen are, metaphysically (by which I mean soul-wise and stuff) identical to humans, are there gods that are weird enough that they can’t really tell the difference between a regular human and a beastman? Sort of a “Oh yeah, you all kinda look the same to me.” Thing?

John:
Spirits are various and diverse and can essentially have any personality or lack of awareness you think fits. Narcissistic or particularly ego-driven gods might never look twice at a mortal or care to tell one from another.


Scutarii:
Beastmen can Exalt right? Will there be any mechanical support for playing a Beastman Exalt? Or are the differences small enough to be a cosmetic choice?

Lea:
Wyld mutations are handled as Merits now, so the corebook has full support for being a furry wolf-headed Solar if you want.

Monkey King:
I hope this means that you’re doing away with the other way beastmen were created.

Holden:
Nope.

SmilingBeast:
Where was this implied? Because I never got the impression that it was a widespread practice even among Lunars.

Loki is one example. The tale of the minotaur is probably an even better analogue.

My guess is that Third Edition will endorse a lot of the “this is a big, strange world and similar things don’t always have the same origin” mentality shown in the Hungry Ghost preview.

Holden:
That’s a pretty good guess.

The MG:
The ruling peoples of the Ixcoatli seem to provide the latter kind of setup, which pleases me.

Holden:
Ixcoatli is so damned old that it’s no longer remotely clear if the various beastfolk there had their origins in Lunar bloodlines, Wyld mutation, sorcerous experimentation, spirit dalliances, or what. (It’s also entirely possible that the two major groups of the empire aren’t of similar origins at all, and given the wide phenotype variations among the serpentfolk, they might not actually be a singular group of homogenous origin, either, even though they’re culturally regarded as such.)


Prometheus878:
I seem to recall that some demons have specific things or actions they want given or performed in order to serve someone, like the neomah with their fleshcrafting, and it just occurred to me that I’ve never figured out if someone who summons a demon with a sorcery spell has to meet the demons’ demands.

Does a sorcerer have to pay for the service of a demon she summons with sorcery?

Lea:
Nah.

Blaque:
I thought you had to have someone for Zsofika to hunt down and eat before she started work?

Lea:
There may be individual exceptions. As a rule, though, no.


Dulahan:
Hoping I have not missed this asked yet…

But can we answer what the Lunars – particularly the elders – think about Getimians? Are they aware of them even?

Lea:
Everyone’s kinda weirded out by the Getimians.


Tokezo Tenken:
Will fairly niche abilities like Sail for example have broader applications if you don’t happen to have much in the way of bodies of water where you are? This might have been answered, but I missed it if so.

John:
Ride has a synergy with Survival, that makes both of them applicable in more situations. Sail is like War; War isn’t much use to you off the battlefield. Sail is not much use to you off the water.

Gaius of Xor:
Is this more a case of, “Your character takes Solar Sail Charms because your character is a legendary sailor, and the abilities of a legendary sailor extend beyond direct applications of the Sail ability,” maybe?

John:
Yep. Also, those are two Charms out of 30+ that really don’t apply outside of nautical situations.

Lea:
I’ve designed a hypothetical alternate skill schema that swaps Ride, Sail, and Survival for Pilot, Wayfare, and Husbandry. Pilot covers handling vehicles in general; Wayfare covers travel, navigation, and also the “Argh I am a tough, weathered bastard inured to the hardships of travel!” angle of both Sail and Survival (though some of that’d get folded into Endurance), and Husbandry covers all interactions with animals. Under this scheme, a ship’s pilot would need Pilot, a ship’s navigator would need Wayfare, regular sailors would basically need Craft to do boat-maintaining stuff as well as Athletics for e.g. climbing rigging, and a captain would need minimal Pilot and Wayfare plus Bureaucracy to keep the crew running and social skills to inspire and motivate them and get his orders followed.

Here’s what Sail does: Sail prevents people who want to play sailors from having to navigate a ridiculous morass of skills like that. It lets you represent being a sailor by putting dots in a skill called Sail and being done with it. Ain’t nobody got time for the Pilot/Wayfare/Husbandry skill scheme.

(A game that was actually about travel to the same extent that Exalted is about e.g. kung-fu fights could benefit from something like that, though.)


jcaan:
This is a small nitpick, but I wonder if you [the developers] will redo the fluff for firedust weapons. I’ve always found the idea that they’re ranged weapons, i.e., Exalted’s version of gunpowder weapons endless amusing–their max range is only 10 yd! 10! That’s not a missile range; that’s more like pila or pike range. I went lol when they talked about how the southern nomad horse archers so valued firedust weapons… Why?! At 10 yd (8 for pistols), any nomad foolish enough to go up against the REAL horse archers with bows will get slaughtered. Not even a contest. At 8 yds, why bother? At 8 yds, it makes far more sense to turn yourself into a lancer instead. 10 or 8, that’s simply just too damn short to be worth as a real missile weapon.

John:
A firedust weapon shoots a plume of fire at short range. It’s not supposed to be an analog to gunpowder weaponry. Naturally there are a lot of problems with riding a horse and firing puffs of flame around its head, or riding and firing puffs of flame, period. Also, firedust weapons are rare and expensive so the idea that every southern nomad values them implies that every southern nomad has one or can get one. We also don’t feel that there is an incentive to load up the South with cowboys and make it the Wild West, when we could fill it with warrior-tribes like the Hyksos and religious warrior nomads and insane desert dwelling holy men and fire mutants, ie things that fit into the feeling of ancient world pulp fantasy.

David J Prokopetz:
Though past previews have suggested that Righteous Devil Style made the core book, and that’s basically an entire martial art built around “what if the Man With No Name were a Final Fantasy character?”. Hard to do that with no cowboy mystique.

John:
Righteous Devil did indeed make it into the book.

Isator Levie:
Can I just take this moment to note how incredibly weird I found the origin story and general culture given to Righteous Devil Style in Scroll of the Monk was? I mean, the reality of how the Style actually works should be enough to have put paid to the idea of it as a reference to Spaghetti Western gunslinging, and I’d certainly hope that the renewed approach to Martial Arts in general might invalidate the idea of “here’s a martial art which is basically practiced by one person in all of Creation (and your PCs, we suppose), who happened to only appear five years ago”.

John:
The history of the style has been redone so more people can learn it, yes. It’s rare because there aren’t infinite firewands or flame pieces out there and firedust costs a boatload.


SmilingBeast:
Hey, Devs – in the core book, what Ability’s Charms make you grin the most when you think about them?

Vance:
One of the first trees I saw was Dodge, and there was a Charm that literally got a verbal “holy shit” out of me.

However, now, it’s definitely Lore.

John:
I wrote around 100k words in Charms. It’s hard to pick. I am really fond of the new Eye of the Unconquered Sun.

Holden:
Socialize trips my “muahahaha” reflex. Also, Larceny. One of the late-stage Evocation playtests saw a Night manage to hilariously and messily kill a Dawn with a Larceny Charm, which was a result I was really really not expecting, but would not change for all the money in the world.

Isator Levie:
Between what we’ve had revealed of Socialize and Bureaucracy, I’m very interested to see what Presence and Performance are like now.

The way you say this makes me picture one Solar trying to steal another’s daiklave in the middle of them unloading some effect which caused it to misfire terribly, but I have a feeling that the Larceny in question was not strictly interacting with any Evocations.

Seriously, you guys need to keep an archive of all these coy hints you keep dropping so that when the book is finally out, you can openly say how they actually happened.

Holden:
The daiklave in question can put poisons afflicting the user “in abeyance,” basically, then discharge them through strikes later on. So the Dawn had loaded himself up with all kinds of hideous toxins. The Night then disarmed the guy’s daiklave and broke its attunement– causing the Evocation holding all those poisons in abeyance to stop working, before he’d had a chance to offload any of them. It turns out that having five different exotic venoms hit your system all at once is not conducive to winning a fight.

Prometheus878:
Hm. On the one hand, awesome new daiklave that serves as a great example of what you can do with artifacts and weird evocations.

On the other hand, considering how that fight went down… I think I’ll stick with Volcano Cutter. =/

Holden:
Volcano Cutter is a full artifact dot more powerful than the daiklave in question. It’s a good pick!

Mind, its big concern is figuring out how to unleash its full power without killing yourself and your whole Circle in the process.


Discussion continues in the third Developers Q&A post.

(Almost) Playtesting Arms of the Chosen

As noted in a recent post, my friend Pat—one of the Marst Chronicle players—has volunteered to act as Storyteller so I can get some playtesting in from the players’ side of the screen. He’s decided to run an actual ongoing game; this limits the amount of straight-up playtesting involved, but it also means I get to try things out in the context of actual play, which has its own benefits.

We started off the first session by finishing up character creation. Travis played Sinkakusha Ro, a Twilight shrine maiden based on Sailor Mars; I played Prince Clovis of Ysyr, a Twilight sorcerer-swordsman based loosely on Elric of Melniboné, and Shane played Icas, a waifish, deer-riding Eclipse who was apparently the same character he’d been playing in an Exalted Second Edition / Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition crossover set in the 4e default setting. (Don’t ask.)

After riding away from a lynch mob of enraged villagers (“I am a doomed prince, no one understands me”), I encountered Icas in the woods, with whom I chatted and traded social influence attempts. We then rode together toward a nearby source of weirdly comforting emanations, which turned out to be Ro’s family shrine. I spent a lot of time watching the other two PCs flirt with each other over dinner (and swapped Attribute points to raise Appearance to 4 so I wouldn’t be left out), then snuck into Ro’s room to verify that her weird giant umbrella had actually concealed a daiklave. The session ended with the farming village behind the shrine under attack by bandits. Next session: the stabbity!

For your entertainment, here’s a photo from the session:

Arms of the Chosen playtest photo

That’s Pat on the left and Travis on the right. Shane was sitting to my immediate left; he’s not visible here, but you can see his character sheet. The sheets aren’t official; they were put together by a playtester from another group. They look nice, though!

Ink Monkey Bones #18: Elemental Essence Eruption

<3>Elemental Essence Eruption

<n>Cost: 8m, 1wp (+2m); Mins: War 4, Essence 4; Type: Simple (Speed 8, DV -2)
Keywords: Elemental, Obvious
Duration: One scene
Prerequisite Charms: Dragon-Seared Battlefield

The Dragon-Blood unleashes the power of an attuned Terrestrial hearthstone that shares her aspect, channeling the Essence of its parent manse into a destructive blaze of elemental force. Her anima blossoms into a full-fledged Essence vent (Oadenol’s Codex, p. 67) with a radius of (Essence) yards. Anyone caught in the elemental flare suffers (manse rating x 5)L environmental damage per action (Trauma 5). This counts as anima flux damage for all intents and purposes. The effect ends if the Dragon-Blood is parted from or loses attunement to the hearthstone. She may also reflexively cancel the Charm at any time.

This Charm temporarily exhausts the power of the hearthstone’s parent manse. The stone becomes inert for one full day, during which time it doesn’t provide motes or special abilities and doesn’t count as a functioning hearthstone for purposes of magical effects.

Alternatively, while standing within the bounds of a Terrestrial-aspected demesne of any aspect, the Dragon-Blood can focus the demesne’s unstable Essence to create an Essence vent. This works in much the same way as the Charm’s primary function, but the damage is based on the demesne’s rating and the vent appears anywhere in the demesne that the Dragon-Blood can see. She may change the focal point of the Charm as a miscellaneous action with a cost of one mote, causing the Essence vent to fade from its current location and reappear at any other place within the demesne.

The Dragon-Blood using this Charm is immune to its effects, as are other Dragon-Blooded that share the Essence vent’s elemental aspect and allies under the effects of any immune Dragon-Blooded’s Enfolded in the Dragon’s Wings.

Elemental Essence Eruption may be used on a demesne that doesn’t share the Dragon-Blood’s elemental aspect. This imposes a two-mote surcharge, increasing the cost to ten motes.

I Came, I Saw, I Crafted

"Golem Forge," by Victor A. MinguezIn the past year of intermittently playtesting Exalted Third Edition, I’ve gone through most of the systems and subsystems for combat and social actions, but I didn’t get a chance to try out the crafting rules until last weekend. While those rules aren’t directly related to the design work I’ve been doing on Arms of the Chosen, it still seemed like a good idea to get a feel for what it’s like to build such items as a player.

My friend Pat, who plays Mato Leaf-Dancer in the Marst Chronicle playtests, ran me through a full evening of crafting scenarios, ranging from mending a horseshoe to fabricating one of the artifact daiklaves that’s written up in the corebook. The system definitely feels like nothing I’ve ever used before. Instead of being fully self-contained, it has multiple points of engagement with actual play, so your crafter can’t simply sit alone in a room and churn out enchanted devices.

Solar Craft Charms add another layer to the system. They interlock in a variety of interesting emergent ways that feel like you’re building something. It has a bit of a Puzzle Quest-ish vibe. I only used a handful of Charms during the playtest, and I’m looking forward to trying out other Charms in future games.

Next on the schedule is another playtest to put various artifact weapons and armor to use along with their Evocations. As in this post, my ability to report on that playtest may be impaired due to NDA restrictions. But I’ll do what I can to share the adventures of Clovis, the Doomed Prince of Ysyr, as he pits the power of his living blade against who knows what perils!