Month: November 2014

Ink Monkey Bones #27: Fragments of the Sebridian Incunabulum

THE SEBRIDIAN INCUNABULUM

containing the names and attributes of three and thirty Lords of the Cities of Hell

Penned by Sebrid Twice Shy, Magus-Aedile of Aryvyras, in the two hundred and fifty-second Year of the League of Many Rivers

 


 

May the curse of Lucien fall upon whosoever abuseth the Knowledge recorded in this Work, and likewise upon any who should share that Knowledge with the Unworthy or the Unwise.

 


Alalgar
The Ever-Open Door
Messenger Soul of She Who Unbinds

Alalgar bears the Shape of an enormous Man swathed in draperies of deepest Purple, such that his Body is entirely concealed. Beneath those draperies lies neither Flesh nor Blood, only a cold and windy Darkness. An he form a Pact with the thaumaturge, she may use that yawning Emptiness as a Bridge to distant realms, through which friends may travel to their Destinations, or enemies may be sent to seek their Doom. He may enter Creation when a mortal traverses the breadth of the world from Pole to Pole.

 


 

Ligier
The Emerald Sun, Most Illustrious Master of the Forge of Brass, High Prince of the Hundred Hells
First and Fetich Soul of the City Hundredfold

Ligier is the first and foremost Lord of the Cities of Hell. He comes in the form of a Prince of most noble Bearing, clad in Green and Gold, with Hair the color of fallen leaves, or of a banked Fire. It is his Attribute that he may craft any Thing which the thaumaturge may desire, but at a Price. He does not Haggle, nor may his will be swayed by the Work or Will of mortal men. He may enter Creation at the moment of the setting Sun—but only as a maiden seizes her Throne against the will of her Court, or as an Artisan completes a masterwork of Brass.

 


 

Gergesenes
The Incandescent Pilgrim, Emperor of the Ever-Rising Road, Sakadagami of the Burning Palms
First and Fetich Soul of the Spear That Pierced Heaven and Earth

Gergesenes is an Enigma among the Lords of Hell. He speaks humbly and walks barefoot, like a Mendicant, but he wears the Crown of an Emperor. His shape is that of a Titan of white-hot Iron. He has seven Hands, four of which hold Relics of the God-Emperors of Hell, these being a Scythe, a Flask, an Orb and a Veil, and it is Written that when all seven of his Hands are filled, he shall achieve an Apotheosis beyond the ken of his Peers. Gergesenes is wise in the ways of Prayer, such that he may send the words of the thaumaturge to any God or Demon in Heaven or Hell. Wheresoever he prays, a temple to the God-Emperors of Hell rises from the earth, and any temple to the Gods of Heaven that he enters is likewise Transformed, such that Demons will find their way between the Worlds to kneel at that Altar. A trail leads him into Creation whensoever a sacrifice is made to the Yozis upon the Slopes of the Pillar of Pasiap.

 


 

Oscytell
The Hungry Depths, Lord Maelstrom
Fourth Soul of the Beast Inexorable

Oscytell, a mighty Prince, comes in the form of a great Whirlpool upon the Waters of the Sea, or a similar Phenomenon upon the Earth, or even in the Sky. He Feasts on all things that come to him, without Favor or Mercy, consuming Men and Beasts, Ships and Houses, and even Islands and Mountains and Clouds. He may also appear as a bodiless Mouth bearded in Fire and Blades, with a Voice like Thunder that cannot be Disobeyed. To summon Oscytell, the thaumaturge must hold forth an Anchor-chain in her right hand, and said hand will be Devoured should the chain be Loosed or the demon be thwarted in its Aims.

 


 

Sanceline
The Song of the Spheres, Most Glorious Maiden of Empyreal Harmony, Lady of the Adamant Chain
First and Fetich Soul of She Who Dwells Within Her Own Name

Sanceline appeareth not at first in mortal form, but rather as Music like unto that of many Glasses struck together, whose Notes the hearer perceives as Colors. But if the thaumaturge doth have one hundred Castrati sing in harmony with the Music, then Sanceline shall appear as a Maiden made of Light, and offer her Services. She teacheth the arts of Music, Mathematics, Geometry, Philosophy and Astrology. She may compel a people to labor as one toward a common Goal, without rest or surcease, so for long as they attend to her Song. The thaumaturge may call upon Sanceline to draw her into that transcendent Music that underlyeth all Things, but this engenders such Joy that few are strong enough to return to the Flesh. She may come of her own will into Creation when a mortal Monk is enlightened by the chiming of a Bell.

 


 

Tanith
The Balefire Diadem, Queen of Flame, Untouched Bride of a Thousand Years
Defining Soul of the Chariot Aflame

A great Queen, Tanith appeareth in the form of a naked Woman, her Body carved of blue Stone; her Skull burns like an oil-lamp with an unholy Flame. Blades do not touch her, and Fire bendeth to her Will. She teacheth Governance, Diplomacy and Etiquette. The thaumaturge must be unfailing in his Decorum, for if, in her presence, he should act in a manner unbefitting his Station, she will mark him as a Slave. If she proposeth Marriage, the thaumaturge must refuse her Offer, lest she be brought back with that Queen to her Palace in Hell.

 


 

Ululaya
The Scarlet Moon, Empress of the Blood-Drenched Tide, Lady of a Thousand Faces
Third and Fetich Soul of the Demon Sea

Ululaya cometh in the form of a Lady of mutable Countenance, clad in scarlet Robes that glow like the Sunset. Hers is the power of the Tide, which maketh the great things Small and the small things Great. She giveth strength to the Weak, wealth to the Impoverished, beauty to the Hideous, sanity to the Mad, and morals to the Depraved. In like Manner she taketh away these things from those possessed of a Surfeit, leaving them hollow in their Absence. She also commands the tides of the Sea, that grindeth away Stones and sweepeth Ships into the Deep.

 


 

Voline
Lady Quicksilver, She Who Unbinds, Opener of the Way
First and Fetich Soul of the Blood-Red Gale

Voline abideth neither Obstacle nor Restraint. She appeareth as a mass of Quicksilver, of no fixed Size or Shape, such that she may one moment be a perfect Droplet, and at the next moment sprawl as large and shapeless as the Sea. Where she passeth, no Portal may remain closed, such that Locks release, Chains come undone, and Cages writhe to set free their Captives. Her touch breaks all Bonds, including those of Oaths and Blood, of Love and Hate. The only Prison she cannot open is the Door of Hell, and the only Oaths she cannot break are those which bind her Masters and her Self.

 


 

Zahhak
Hundred-Handed Monarch, Prince of the Bottomless Well, Most Venerable Treasurer of Hell
First and Fetich Soul of the Blossom of All Hungers

Zahhak is a mighty Satrap who appeareth as a woman or man of great Height and Girth, clad in royal Robes of silk and jade and orichalc, with three burning Eyes, who nonetheless possesseth a terrible Beauty. Ninety-nine of his hundred hands wield devices of great Power; with the hundredth hand he will take a thing of inestimable Value, and should he not find such a thing, he will seize his Summoner and take her back to Hell. He leadeth armies in wars of Conquest and in the scorching of the Earth; he redirecteth the course of Rivers and Dragon-Lines, and stealeth the articles of Sovereignty. He teacheth the arts of Enchantment and the accumulation of Wealth. When he wills, he may also take the Form of a storm of Locusts that shine as Jewels. He may enter Creation when a Monarch devoureth the Flesh and drinketh the Blood of her Predecessor.

 


 

Zsofika
The Kite Flute, the Huntress of the Hungry Flame
Messenger Soul of the Prince Upon the Tower

Zsofika cometh as a Nomad of the Southern Waste, her hair braided with Bells. Her Attribute is mastery of the Hunt. She appeareth within a Fire, wherefrom she doth Stalk her chosen Prey, and should she lack for Prey, she chaseth and devoureth the Thaumaturge instead. She will then Hunt whatsoever Prey the thaumaturge doth set for her, her Attendants climbing from the Earth in her Wake, and a Piping as of idiot Flutes wafts from their Standards. Such Omens as pursue her in her Progress render Augurs mad and Astrologers blind. Though her Womb be barren, Zsofika desireth Children, and she may beget a Child upon any who will Compact with her. Unless the Compact stipulate that no harm shall come of it, the Foetus shall devour the gravid Parent from within.

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Arms-ish Playtest #6

My NYC playtest group managed another session a couple of weeks ago, but as that was just before I disappeared into the final stages of manuscript revision, I lacked the time and energy to post. Time to correct that! Unfortunately, I was dog-tired at the time and spent most of the session half-asleep. In addition, we didn’t actually do any weapons testing, so its value as an Arms of the Chosen playtest was questionable at best. Still, a playtest is a playtest…

We only had two players that night—myself and Chris, who had some roleplaying experience and, despite being unfamiliar with Exalted, was ready to jump in feet-first. Pat provided us with a pair of pregenerated Solar siblings. I got the older brother, Hunter, a Night Caste tracker with an inclination for violence. Chris played the younger brother, Scep, an Eclipse Caste and the face of our little two-Solar bounty hunting operation. Having just returned to Nexus after a job, Scep quickly got us another assignment: Procure tyrant lizard fangs for an ivory dealer in exchange for a sizable fee. After arranging for transit with a caravan heading southeast in ten days, we looked for ways to pass the time until then.

While Hunter spent his share of the proceeds of the pair’s latest venture on alcoholic beverage and persons of the evening, Scep decided to mix business with pleasure by seducing a wealthy older gentleman in order to loot the fellow’s home once the man passed out from an excess of drink. After pawning the man’s jewelry, he decided to make a profit on the fellow’s rich-but-archaic garments by fabricating the persona of couture prodigy Klaus Beaverhausen, and passing off the forgotten old styles as the cutting edge in Nexus fashion.

kanaya_sewing_by_sugarkins-d4gvjz6The project proved dramatically effective. Scep’s Charm-enhanced social maneuvering soon had many of the city’s movers and shakers figuratively eating out of his hand. One minor misstep involved offending a sought-after model, but after a heated lunch meeting, she set aside her animus in exchange for a role in an upcoming—and, indeed, pulled from thin air on the spur of the moment—Beaverhausen fashion show, to be held after his triumphant return to the city from his upcoming journey to the southeast. By the time the PCs departed the city, Scep had even taken on a couple of apprentice tailors as interns, arranging for them to spend the next month or two performing unpaid labor on his new fashion line to get a leg up in Nexus’ booming fashion industry.

(No, you won’t find anything about fashion shows in the 3e corebook. This was simply an instance of the Storyteller building on a player’s interest at the table.)

It was fun to watch Chris, an Exalted newbie, interact with the 3e social influence system, in which a moderately-experienced Storyteller was able to keep track of all of the rules without the player needing to know the specifics of various social actions. Chris definitely found it engaging enough that he came back for this past Thursday’s playtest, though he had to leave early and thus missed out on actual play, which covered a couple of vicious encounters with claw striders. Stay tuned for more playtest reports!

Ink Monkey Bones #26: New Infernal Hearthstones, Part 6

This may be the last Ink Monkey Bones post, as my supply of unpublished material that’s fit to print here has run dry. (I’ll see if I can scrounge up more, but I wouldn’t count on it.) On the other hand, my biotech manuscript is finally out of my hands and in my editor’s care, so I once again have time to start properly posting again. Expect to see more activity here in the coming weeks!


<2>Hearthstones of Oramus

<3>Marcher-Prince Diadem (Manse 2)

<n>The bearer of this chiaroscuro agate moves more easily at the edges of things. He doubles his movement rate when traveling along boundaries between states: the banks of a river, the shores of a sea, the edge of a cliff, the border of a shadowland or the periphery of a landscape-formed Yozi or Third Circle Demon. If the boundary being traced is that of Oramus or one of his Third Circle landscapes, his movement rate triples instead.

<3>Wyld-Spreading Gem (Manse 3)

<n> This stone is of no fixed color or form, these things shifting from moment to moment. Its presence breaks down the barriers between order and chaos, amplifying the chaos of the Wyld. Within 10 yards of the stone, treat Creation (or any other realm!) as the Bordermarches; the Bordermarches as the Middlemarches; the Middlemarches as Deep Wyld; and Deep Wyld as Pure Chaos.

<3>Fortune’s Favor (Manse 4)

<n> The bearer of this amber cube doubles the bonus dice received from stunts whose benefits involve random chance: thunder punctuating a dramatic Performance check, favorable winds for Sail, stumbling over a stone as part of a Dodge, etc. These bonus dice become automatic successes within the landscapes of Oramus’ Third Circle souls.

“Ask the Developers” Thread Summary, Post #3

The developers Q&A has outlasted WordPress’s post length yet again. I’m continuing to summarize the discussion below, posting only relevant information from developers and other Exalted staff.

Links to previous threads:
Q&A Summary #1
Q&A Summary #2

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.

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.

However, now, it’s definitely Lore.


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.)


Isator Levie:
I feel as though, while Third Edition will go quite some ways to alleviating some of the problems with the Eclipse Caste spread, at least some of the onus is going to fall on players to shift away from a paradigm that appears to view Sail and Ride mostly in terms of “basic utilitarian ability for getting from point A to point B”.

I mean, if the only thing you want from Sail is to get on a boat and cross a certain distance with as little fuss as possible, it would seem you want a character who’ll just charter passage on somebody else’s boat.

I can’t recall, did Shards phrase Drive in terms of an Ability meant to cover the basic and likely ubiquitous ability to use a car?

Part of what would make a character using Sail and Ride is, I think, seeking out areas in which the use of such things is dramatic and interesting in its own right. Where it’s more than just being able to efficiently utilise a basic conveyance (even if part of that is saying that the tasks necessary to utilising pre-modern conveyances can be dramatic and interesting in their own right).

From there, one expands into the Eclipse Caste space by thinking “what thing evocative of the Eclipse thesis is conveyed or enabled by what is dramatic and interesting in using these Abilities”, because if it was just about travel for the sake of diplomacy or trade, then again, you’d probably be better off just hiring somebody else.

It’s in much the same boat as imagining Dawn’s who’ll do anything other than just using War to command others in the actual fighting.

John:
The problem comes from thinking of them as the “diplomat Solars” rather than world-walkers, oath-binders, and overseers of Creation. Diplomacy is in there, it’s part of the program, but there are Eclipses who are only incidentally diplomatic. For example, Prince Diamond. He has traveled from afar to reach Jiara, and in a sense he represents his father, his culture, and his people to the Khidara throne, and he happens to have a keen sense of the greater political forces that connect nations. But he is an outcast from his land, not anyone’s official herald, nor is he sanctioned by the Delzahn to broker any sort of agreements. He is a diplomat incidentally; he is acting more out of a sense of the damage that has been done to the world on an innate level; he is siding with Perfect Soul to shore up that damage, starting with Jiara.

He rides a horse from Chiaroscuro to Jiara.

An Eclipse who can’t move from place to place under his own agency is not able to fulfill his Caste role to its utmost. That role only includes diplomacy as the most visible, or incidentally prominent role of the Eclipse.

Tokezo Tenken:
Most GM’s will simply skip travel or elide the parts where the party isn’t doing something the GM finds interesting, such as being attacked.

John:
We disagree with this assertion and did not design around the assumption that most players find storytelling boring.

John:
We did not design around STs who aren’t interested in telling particular stories. That means that as an assumption, we didn’t go, “Well we need more STs to include travel, so lets make a system that covers traveling long distances,” because that’s missing the point and not going to change anyone’s mind, and is incoherent for the kind of game Exalted is trying to be. Exalted is not a top down macro simulator.

We disagree with the assertion that a system should be designed to convince these STs to do something they don’t want to do.

We didn’t design the game around STs who find storytelling to be boring.

I hope this clears up your confusion.

bartkusa:
I will probably GM Exalted. I am not a good GM. I want to run a game with exciting travel and bureaucracy and whatnot-besides-combat.

If there aren’t such systems in the corebook, are there things-other-than-systems that will help me, in the corebook or elsewhere?

John:
We hope the project rules will help you run exciting and interesting games. They are framed kind of like a plot-moving device where introducing twists and complications are always a part of the ST’s agenda. The naval combat system might not help directly with sea travel but it may inspire you to put more games on the water. Hopefully the Sail and Bureaucracy Charms help inspire you and give you ideas for stories and characters, while also suggesting the kind of story you would like to tell.

squidheadjax:
And so, is it fair to say, that the answer is actually, “Yes, travel is one of the elements considered in the the system for ‘Projects'”?

John:
Not really. The project system is for rulership and leadership stories. It’s not about Ride and Sail directly.

Anu:
How about a simple way to phrase the travel question:

Can I hack the Extended Roll rules to determine how long it takes for the PCs to get from point A to point B? You can assume that I am asking the players to describe what their characters are actually doing at each roll interval in order to get from A to B, but that I, as the Storyteller, am not obstructing the characters with battles or natural hazards, and am simply allowing the players to describe the journey until they reach their destination.

Holden:
That’s one of the basic system functions, yeah.

There’s no “travel system” beyond that. Not really sure why anyone would need one, or what it’d look like beyond being a random encounter table.

David J Prokopetz:
I think the big concern is that without a formal travel system, the bread-and-butter travel Charms will have no design space to play in beyond making journeys shorter and less interesting.

Vance:
How many Charms do you want to spend on traveling? I mean, some are nice, but once you get to a certain point, it’s nice to move on to other cool things that Ability can do instead of just Go Faster Charm #4?

Bread and butter’s cool, but sometimes you want dessert. ^_^

theliel:
This – What, exactly, are Sail and Ride going to do if there is not a system for them to interact with

Holden:
Interact with the basic resolution mechanicms of the game, or combat, or naval combat. Not everything needs a subsystem.

theliel:
especially as John mentioned that Sail isn’t going to be useful when not on a boat.

Holden:
Investigation is going to be of limited efficacy without mysteries, as well. This criticism has always puzzled me.

Wuse_Major:
I could see “finding your way,” “getting sustenance from the area,” and “increasing speed via either a shortcut or getting more out of your propulsion system” as all being things a Travel System might have. Presumably though, that’s just “Stuff that Ride, Sail, and Survival do” and you would use the normal skill resolution system to resolve those situations, yes?

Holden:
Bingo!

Dulahan:
Seriously, for the answer of what a GOOD and interesting Travel System looks like? The homework is One Ring, and Dark Continent (If you can get a hold of it). Both make the travel as, if not more interesting as Combat. And they aren’t just random encounters tables. One Ring in particular I can see as being a great one to use as Exalted inspiration since even Exalts needs to camp in the wilds or set watch and the likes, and Charms can all have functionality with that…

So the lack of a detailed travel system is a negative for me. this is something that recent games have pulled off and I think is a good benchmark for the future. (Not that it makes me wish I hadn’t pledged as high as I did!)

Holden:
If I was doing a Tolkien RPG, “getting from one side of a windswept, icy mountain to another” would be a big enough focal element to warrant mechanical depth.

In Exalted, you can cast Cloud Trapeze and fly the whole Circle over it. It’s not as central.


Doleco:
Hi developers, (not you The Demented one) is there any way we could get the skill description text listed in the traits chapter? Maybe just one? Maybe a portion of one? I’m really curious to read what forms the basis of some of these awesome charms, and I don’t think its limited to “get out of the way of things” or “know obscure knowledge.”

Holden:
I would love to, but we’re routing all substantial spoilers through the KS previews at the moment. If it’s any consolation, I would have picked the trolliest example I could find.


Anaximander:
What, if anything, has surprised you developers that we have seized on for controversy or excitement that you don’t think is a big deal? Anything we’ve not seized on that you thought would cause a frenzy?

Holden:
It’s been pretty much according to expectations so far. Of course, there’s still a fair bit of frenzysome stuff that won’t drop till the core does.


Lord Raziere:
the 2e corebook pretty much only gave powerbows for archery, so I’m wondering if there will be more options in 3e corebook?

Holden:
Crossbows and their artifact counterparts are in the EX3 core.


Mostlyjoe:
1. It would seem the Getimian Exalted and Lunars might have a mutual beneficial relationship. Did Tulio make a deal with the Silver Pact? It would allow him the flexibility to safely move and train his agents.

2. Were their Exigent Exaltation that survived the Usurpation? Can the power of some of them pass down from host to host like other Exalted or is it a one shot thing? (Don’t remember if this has been answered.)

3. Would it be all that weird for a Liminal to have the ghost of one of his body parts haunting him as a companion?

John:
1. Lunars don’t have a uniform response to much of anything. Some look at Thulio with suspicion. Some see the Getimians as an aberration. Others see them as a chance to settle the score.

2. Yes some survived, and some can also pass their Exaltations along. Not all Exigents are a one-shot deal.

3. Define “haunted” for me? It would only be weird in the sense that Liminals have a very specific stance when it comes to undead in Creation.


Sunder the Gold:
Whether Lunars are as good as Sidereals or worse than Dragon-Blooded at crafting, are they going to have any particular affinity for turning the corpses of creatures they hunt into artifacts or mundane gear of decent quality?

Like the weapons and armor you see in the Monster Hunter games.

John:
Crafting using the bone and hides of enemies is an interesting idea as a Lunar specialization. I will think on it. (No answer as of yet.)


CowboyEnergy:
I’d like an idea of how widespread the true history of the world is, mythology-wise. Does every culture somehow know that Primordials made Creation out of the Wyld, or are there a variety of creation (no pun intended) myths?

John:
The true origins of Creation are not common knowledge.


Ranger_Lord:
Is there a mounted combat tree within the Solar Ride Charmset?

John:
Keeping quiet on this one. As an aside, Ride is a much larger tree.


nexus:
Its been revealed they are descendents of First Age engineered race designed to maintain Essence technology made small to work in tight confines (Minikin?). In 2ed the all naturally had Awakened Essence due to this but that cause some complaints (But what didn’t?),]. IIRC a little their current culture was revealed as well. But overall they’ve got the same potential as any other mortals in creation. We’ve had three Djala PC in our games. Only one was ever a slave.

Lea:
No, that’s a common misread of Dreams of the First Age; DotFA actually says they were a pre-existing ethnicity. The minikin, DotFA’s “Tiny people designed to maintain Essence technology in tight confines” race, were engineered from the djala, not the other way around. Also, the djala all had awakened essence in Scroll of Heroes because the person who write their writeup in Scroll of Heroes thought they needed spicing up; it’s not consistent with any material written about them before that book or since that book, and should be ignored.

Also also, that’s all getting thrown in the garbage for Ex3. They’re just an ethnic group of pygmies with vitiligo native to the lands south of Harborhead. I don’t know if there’s any plans to go into any detail on them for 3e; certainly they’re still around, but “Yet more detailed anthropological essays about subject that got mentioned constantly in 2e because it was a fan-favorite thing in 1e” is not really on our agenda.


LC1984:
How many merits (est.) will there be in the core book?

Holden:
Ignoring odds and ends that might be hiding in Charms or the sorcery chapter, and counting variant ratings under a single header as one Merit……. 50 Merits.

LC1984:
Will there be some expanded examples for what warrants a penalty / a bonus die on a skilltest? Especially for some of the skills this was always harder to grasp (lore, linguistics, bureaucracy) for myself.

Holden:
Yes. EX3 is very clear on when to level penalties vs when to modify difficulty (basically: If the difficulty isn’t pre-fixed, say by a character’s Defense value, then you modify difficulty– penalties only happen if difficulty is pre-determined, or if some specific rule is imposing them), and has a decent slate of examples of appropriate ones.

Mostlyjoe:
Could we get a name only list of the merits as a preview?

Holden:
No, but I’ll cherry-pick a few, since the thread hasn’t had anything juicy in a while. Let’s see——

Random excerpts:

Ambidextrous
Artifact
Boundless Endurance
Command
Demesne
Direction Sense
Followers
Hideous
Language
Manse
Mentor
Pain Resistance
Retainers
Tempered by the Elements
Claws/Fangs/Hooves/Horns
Extra Limbs
Poisoned Body
Subtlety
Thaumaturgist
Venomous

That leaves 30 more to discover when the book comes out. At least, in Chapter Four… heh heh heh.

Charles Gray:
so, Merits now include conditional merits (command which you could lose, say by being delcared a traitor) and physical merits which used to be mutations. Is there any discussoin on how to handle merits that may be lost in play?

Holden:
No different from how Backgrounds have always worked, really. You could always lose your Resources, alienate your Allies, get your Retainers killed, etc.

Argent:
Though people have handled that very differently depending on games (allowing Retainers to get a “refill” if you lose them as long as there is appropriate downtime, etc). Is it reasonable to read this reply like there won´t be any “plot immunity” like that for these things in Ex3?

Holden:
There never has been in official publications and there won’t be going forward, no. Buying Allies doesn’t give you plot armor against losing them.

David J Prokopetz:
Are Story Merits and Purchase Merits going to come from the same resource pool at character creation? It strikes me that, while story-advantage-type traits being vulnerable to story-based loss isn’t a particular issue when the character creation resources you’re spending on them can’t be spent on anything else, rolling them into the same resource pool that’s used to purchase other types of traits that aren’t vulnerable to story-based loss has the potential to create an optimisation problem where none formerly existed.

Holden:
1) I’m not terribly concerned about optimization in that regard.

2) This is not new. See: Allies, Artifact, Manse, Retainers, Resources, Mentor, etc, vs Breeding, Taboo, Heart’s Blood, Style, Whispers, Eidolon, etc.

Lea:
Either implementation causes problems; we prefer the problems caused by this one, rather than the ones caused by the other, I.e. “Well, I don’t have enough XP to buy another retainer/artifact right now, so I’m not going to value this NPC I just met/this daiklave I just found because I don’t have the resources to narratively tag him/it as ‘mine.'”

Holden:
Also I really hate ‘plot armor.’


Gentleman Grunt:
In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, what’s the most terrifying thing that’s been added to Ex3? (I understand that terrifying may be subjective, so I’d love to hear from various people what they think the scariest thing added to the new edition is.)

Holden:
Bonesiders, probably. Mask of Winters’ siege of Thorns was both overwhelmingly one-sided and astonishingly cruel, this time around.


Crumplepunch:
What would you say are the three biggest changes to the Dragon-Blooded in third edition?

Holden:
The fact that they’re now literal dragon-men, their Aspects being changed from five elements to 25 elements, and the way they now reproduce by an unholy form of human mitosis.

[They’re probably the least-changed Exalts, honestly. 1e pretty much nailed them. They just need a little more pizzaz for their Charms.]


Mostlyjoe:
Here is a question. How do you assign difficulties? One of the issues from 1E is 5 successes where an inhuman feat…and most Exalted can break 5 with out a sweat, what’s the point of the old difficulty numbers? You did address this in 3E? Or find the old 1 vs 5 successes being a ranking on how well you did more subjective?

Holden:
The success requirements are very clearly plotted out. That said, a Solar burning Essence on something he’s good at can clear diff 5 pretty often.


Poop Deck:
Compared to the 2E core book, would you estimate there is a bigger or a smaller discussion regarding the Neverborn? I have always found them to be a very evocative part of the setting and always liked reading about them.

Holden:
Next to nothing. A bunch of dead gods dreaming corrosive dreams of revenge in another dimension isn’t something that needs much of a corebook footprint, beyond establishing them as an idea.


Crumplepunch:
In my experience the most loathed aspect of Dragon-Blood design is the inclusion of caveats that cause their Charms to fail when used against Celestials or when opposed by Celestial magic. Will this be returning?

Holden:
I never really found that to be a very compelling design concept.


Mostlyjoe:
1. Besides Sidereals ties to the realm, is there examples of other cross-Exalt support and organizations? Lunars, Liminals, etc?

2. In the thought of making Dragon-Bloods unique in their own book what core elements set them apart from other Exalts now? Besides the Realm itself, what do you feel will set them apart in 3E?

3. Where do you see Abyssals fitting in since the “slave” relationship is being played down and the Death Knight is being played up? What are they in creation? Heroes, murders, both?

4. Is there any mental ‘design space’ you are setting aside mechanically for each exalt? Evocations and Sorcery are Solar’s big thing? What would you say DB’s be mechanical thing might be?

5. Will the Lunar and Dragon Blooded books cover the 2 sides (and possible 3rd with Sidereals) history of the protracted war going on? Would the military and social impact fit better in it’s own book?

John:
1. Not yet.

2. The Realm stuff covers a lot of things! When you say “besides the Realm stuff” you are cutting out a major part of what sets Dragon-Blooded apart. That said, being able to birth dynasties of Exalted and wield elemental magic as a matter of skill.

3. Abyssals being present in Creation is not a good thing. They have more opportunities for heroism, but they still carry a curse that makes them an abomination, an unnatural thing.

4. No, we don’t think that way.

5. It’s going to be discussed in multiple books.


Fenrir666:
My favorite 2E splat is the Sidereals. How will they look in Ex3? Is Violet Bier of Sorrows Style still going to be a thing? What kinds of things can you do with Sidereal Martial Arts?

Holden:
VBoS will still be around in some form. Sidereal Martial Arts allow you to do fun things like inflict the Jigsaw Organ Condition on your foes, shatter sorcery with a palm strike, cut opponents into Lunchable slices with threads of solid Essence, attach yourself to your foe’s shadow to effortlessly follow wherever he tries to flee, displace your martial excellence in time so that it catches up with you when you need it most, and dissolve souls with corrosive Essence strikes.

Fenrir666:
On a non-Sidreal note, what kinds of things can you do with Celestial Circle Sorcery?

Holden:
Transport your Circle in a great cloud-vessel. Teleport to the heart of a mountain. Summon a mighty potentate of Hell. Become a walking war machine of cruel iron. Summon the shuddering and moaning princes of the Fallen Tower. Unleash the Magma Kraken.

Fenrir666:
Adamant Circle?

Holden:
Turn the desert into a bountiful eden. Reduce a city to smoking ruin with the Rain of Doom. Carve your name into a mountainside with an incomparable ray of killing Essence.


nexus:
Are Celestials still going to have life spans measured in millennia and Terrestrials in centuries?

Holden:
Of course.


Kim:
Currently Storytelling an Exalted campaign designed to become a 3rd Edition game eventually, characterisation of the Guild is coming up next in the game, and I’m just wondering which of the source books I own (Manacle and Coin (1ed) or Msters of Jade(2ed)) should I use? (in order to lessen the risk of having to retcon stuff or present things that might be changed in EX3) Which one will be the closest to EX3s characterization of the Guild? And/or will both of them be unapplicable?

John:
Manacle and Coin is closer on the details of the Guild’s inside and outs. Masters of Jade is an entertaining supply of ideas for Guild characters in 2e. It’s not how we would do a Guild book for EX3.


The MG:
Also, I thought there wouldn’t be any thaumaturgy in the corebook. What changed?

John:
I wrote a Charm that interacted with thaumaturgy and then later wrote a thaumaturgy section right before sending the book off to edits. 🙂


Anaximander:
Besides contractual obligations, internal senses of duty, and sheer cussedness, how have you devs managed to keep going through this long, long process? How can you stand to even think about Exalted after the core book is finally done?

John:
We love Exalted and have been working this hard to see it make a revival. We are looking forward to seeing people use the book. Plus the hardest part is over and now we get to have fun crafting supplements.


Blaque:
Will necromancy or some form of necromantic initiation be in the corebook, or is that to be saved for later in Abyssals or Liminals?

John:
Later! No comment as to which books though 🙂


Ranger_Lord:
Will each type of Exalt (or most of them) still have a “Hero Style” or style they can learn without a Sifu?

Delgarde:
Pretty sure we’ve had a clear “NO” on that one. The “Hero Styles” were a quirk of how 2e tried to do away with Brawl and treat all unarmed combat as Martial Arts… with the effect that suddenly non-Solars could learn all the Solar brawl charms, etc (the “no teacher” bit being a workaround for Exalts not otherwise being able to learn their own charms) . I believe the devs are reverting to something more like the 1e approach of having them as native charms again…

Holden:
Nope. Delgarde got it right. They’re back to being Brawl Charms. (or native Lunar Charms, or whatever)


ElTommo:
The question now is obvious: What other 3e mechanics or thematic elements draw inspiration from Square and Nintendo’s seminal collaboration, Super Mario RPG? XD

Lea:
As many as we can. God that game was great.


Prometheus878:
Okay, how about something a little less open-ended, but not about mechanics.

Wyld Hunt is chasing an Anathema. It seems like it’s going to get away, but some teenaged Threshold rube stops it. In fact, he kills with a single fiery punch! He just Exalted as a Dragonblood! Once the rush has worn off, the Thresholder says he wants to be a Dynast, like them, and asks if they would they kindly take him back to the Isle to join one of the Houses.

What do they do?

What do they do if they’re all from different Houses?

Lea:
Traditionally, outcastes are promised wealth and opportunity on the Isle, but once they get there, are offered the choice of the coin or the razor—join the Immaculate Order or enlist in the Legions. If he joins the Order, your question is moot; monks are expected to stay out of House politics, though the shikari who recruited him might attempt to use him as a contact in the order, I guess. If he joins the Legions, he gets shipped off to Pasiap’s Stair, a grueling military academy where outcastes go through what amounts to a 10-year boot camp designed to destroy and rebuild his personality in the model of the perfect Realm-loyal soldier, and from there he gets a text least a fifteen-year term in the Legions.

In any case, the general theme is “Promised the world, then chewed up and spat out because nobody wants an outcaste of uncertain breeding marrying into their House.” Dynastic culture is incredibly classist.

Theliel:
It’s been awhile but I thought I remembered reading something about how patrician branches are the prime consumers of outcasts after the fifteen year legion stint – people looking to get back into having DBs in the immediate bloodline or those looking to ‘move up’ – misplaced eggs (or whatever the term involving eggs was) aren’t going to get prime pickings of established DB households but they are still a higher status for ‘mere’ mortals looking to ‘move up’

The Realm are classist, imperialistic authoritarian douchebags but they are not typically wasteful.

Lea:
Well, yeah. And that outcaste who got picked up during Wyld Hunt, if he chooses the Coin, survives the Stair, and serves with distinction, may very well be introduced to one of the siblings of one of the shikari who found him… a quarter-century later at the earliest.

But that’s really complicated right now because Stair graduates are trained to be loyal to the Realm as an abstraction and to the Empress directly, while the Houses are currently busy looting the Realm, having already absorbed the Imperial legions directly into their House forces. His feelings will likely end up somewhat mixed. Or the whole institution of Pasiap’s Stair could just fucking collapse during his first couple of years of study when civil war breaks out.

John:
Outcastes are not recruited directly into Great Houses. They are given the choice of the coin or the razor. If they pick the coin they can serve in the Imperial Legions, which are the direct military forces of the Scarlet Empire and not under the control of any House. If they pick the razor, they go into the service of the Immaculate Order, which is an entity above and outside the influence of any particular House. Outcastes, in other words, are brought into the Realm under the auspices of the Empress. Every last House wants to vacuum up any Outcaste recruit for their own personal house troops, but as of yet, this is still highly illegal. How they reacted to the Outcaste would be based entirely on the dispositions of the characters present. They might murder him and make it look like the Lunar did it, take credit for killing the Anathema and use the budget they saved (by not having to complete the hunt themselves) partying until it was time to go home.


Anaximander:
What’s one idea you had at the start of doing 3E that later on you realized just didn’t work or was actually really stupid or whatever and jettisoned?

Holden:
We had an entire Exalt type that eventually dropped off the slate completely as it became clearer over time that they weren’t actually tenable, although they seemed cool at first blush.

Argent:
Will you reveal what that concept was (even if it is “in time”)?

Holden:
Probably not.


Mechanix:
1) is the tyrant lizard the most badass animal out there?
2) do you ever plan to revisit (and stat upEx3-style) the great-terrors?
3) is there among the writing team much love for Exalted’s original fauna, as opposed to real world/prehistoric fauna? I’m basically asking if there’ll ever be references and stats for stuff like ink monkeys, horned snow hunters, furnace rhinos, that kind of stuff. Aside from a few fan-favorites, I always felt like most people just… didn’t know/cared that they existed, and it’s true that some aren’t very, hm, flashy.

Lea:
1) There is at least one thing on the tyrant lizard’s stat block that made me ask Holden if it was a mistake, to which he indicated no, it’s the tyrant lizard, they get to do that.

2, 3) Speaking only for myself:

I like some of Exalted’s original fauna, but not the stuff that’s like “Take a real animal, make it big, and add horns/more limbs.” For example, I am weirdly fond of the singers of the deep (mostly because of the image of schools of them leaping out of the water like flying fish as they head toward a ship they’re attacking?) and those things that look like animate totem poles, but great terrors… enh…

There’s a difficult balance to be found in writing up a monster, especially a monster species rather than a unique individual like, say, Arad the Hunter. Monsters need to be genuinely menacing, but I think most attempts to make menacing monsters just result in unbelievable monsters because they’re so obviously written up to have no purpose or role in the setting except to have a boss fight. I find a lot of RPG monsters are written up to be so clearly fight-bait that I can’t take them seriously as anything but the output of a writer trying to fill assigned entries in a monster manual.

So Exalted fauna that’s just, like “A real animal, but bigger and with horns or more limbs, and also especially bloodthirsty and dangerous,” I tend to see as sort of the creative equivalent of a 90s X-men villain, all nebulous energy-manipulation powers and S&M-influenced costume and probably introduced by having Colossus or Archangel or, like, Samurai or a minor X-Man nobody cares about or another established villain job to them to build cheap heat.

Using real animals or things very close to real animals short-circuits this — consider how your players would have their characters react to being set upon by a grell, versus a pack of hungry dogs. We get dogs well enough to know why a pack of baying rabid hounds out for us is menacing; anyone who’s grown up somewhere with bears or mountain lions or poisonous snakes understands why encountering a bear or a mountain lion or a poisonous snake while out and about is potentially bad news, albeit something you can get away from without harm if it’s not provoked. And of course everybody’s ready to believe dinosaurs are dangerous, as are any of the too-weird-to-be-fake megafauna out of paleontology books.

I wouldn’t pooh-pooh an attempt to do a great terror writeup in 3e. But I’d have a lot to say going into it about what needs to happen to make it good. I would be like “Okay, first, read the animals section at the back of Reign, the bit about how animals are dangerous, and go from there.”

(That said, animals are neat in 3e, since they’re written with Lunar shapeshifting compatibility in mind, so it wouldn’t be difficult to do a great terror in 3e and make it mechanically and behaviorally compelling.)

Holden:
1) I’m not sure how you’d do a T-Rex vs Siaka comparison since neither of them can really survive in the other’s environment, say. It’s probably Creation’s top land predator.
2) Don’t have any particular plans to do so. Don’t have any particular plans not to, either, though.
3) Ink monkeys (and panic monkeys) are kind of neat examples of weird things that exist in the setting. We’ve always liked furnace rhinos because of the Gem-related plot hooks they bring with them. Something like the great terror kind of needs a little bit more to pull its weight– it’s like, okay, what does having a horse-sized wolverine give us that is better than D&D or whatever?


insomniac:
The Realm stuff is awesome, but since not all DB are Dynasts, I think the thrust of the question could be phrased as “what would make an Outcastes game cool and different from a relatively low-powered Solars game?”

Also: based on recent developments in paleontology, do Tyrant Lizards have feathers?

John:
1) They are Princes of the Earth. Creation is theirs in a way no mortal man will experience.

2) Nope. If I have to be bald, so does tyrant lizard.


Solarious:
How do a sorcerers’ societies work in 3E? Do powerful sorcerers offer cabals of less powerful sorcerers gifts of wealth, favorable pacts with demons, and fantastic moats of living lightning ringing their manses to woo their support in arcane workings?

John:
Outside the Realm, where Exalted sorcerers are often called to the same duties as every other Dragon-Blooded, you only find groups of Dragon-Blooded sorcerers fraternizing as part of some long-standing official tradition. For example, instructors at the Heptagram sometimes work together as close associates.

Outside of the Realm, sorcerers are far more insular and paranoid of their secrets. They rarely form alliances. A cabal of sorcerers is destined to be a mighty and fearsome thing, and when it happens it is usually a loose alliance of nominal equals.


Lea:
The Heptagram survives in its current form, despite this form being arguably harmful, because of a series of political and developmental realities stemming from past circumstance. It’s not torn down and rebuilt from scratch because there’s no political will to do so — most of the people with the political strength to do something like tear it down and replace it with a more equitable, less dangerous alternative have more self-serving things to do with their time, and the people who’d want it abolished aren’t strong enough to accomplish that, either because they straight up aren’t politically strong or because they’re being opposed by interests who believe they have more opportunity for personal gain if the Heptagram stays as it is than if it changes. Also, almost everyone involved occupies a sociopolitical context that conditions them to believe any efforts in the direction of a more safe and equitable sorcerous education for the Realm would be futile; it therefore occupies a sort of realpolitik-generated blind spot. Like how more people die from hunger than ebola, but more people panic about ebola than hunger.

And, you know, “The Heptagram doesn’t make sense to me; there’s no way people would tolerate something harmful just because they occupy a sociopolitical context that dissuades them from making efforts to change it” reminds me a lot of “I find Rakan Thulio uncompelling because I find people acting from personal and idiosyncratic motives uncompelling.”


taichara:
The Trojan War involved copious amounts of murder and was started because some dude wanted his girl back.

As for sympathetic or respectable — nope, still not seeing the problem. Dude had an eye-opener and, as most all of those suddenly slapped with the trout of enlightenment, swung right around in the othr direction like he was a pendulum. Works for me. And that’s assuming, which is a big assumption, we as readers are automatically supposed to side with Rakan as sympathetic or respectable to begin with.

Lea:
(You’re not.)

John:
Thulio has done some ill shit in his life. He also helped save the world several times over. Them’s the breaks.


Mostlyjoe:
1. What is the core theme do you see for Solar players in the new edition? What focus does the core bring? Are you just recapturing 1st Edition or is there something new coming to the table?

2. Do you feel that the Solars deserve more books beyond the Core? Elements of their past from the 1st Age. Their relationships with their fallen/corrupted other selves in the weird reflection of Abyssals and Infernals?

3. Now that we are stepping away from the 1000 dooms of creation how do the Getimians fit into this? If they are an aberration of Fate, doesn’t their very existence threaten the Great Loom?

4. If Liminals are inspired by Prometheans do they suffer from some of the same problems they do? It was mentioned that they at times could be considered a creature of darkness/or not. Do they fluctuate between human-like and monstrous that triggers this distinction?

5. Rakan Thulio has a valid point against heaven. Do others follow him that are NOT Getimians? Do some Solars, Lunars, etc that agree with his take on the gods being the enemies of Creation?

6. Can Exigent’s teach each other their charms regardless of origin due to them all sharing the divine fore of the Sun within them?

7. A “Dirty Bomb” Exigent might have an aberration of power, but does that mean they are seen as evil by Heaven? Does an Exigent born from many spiritual hands with out the mandate look seem cursed?

8. Do you see Lunars gaining powers over the world in a style of Druids? Commanding beasts, the land itself? We have heard of Shamanistic magic being at their command, but I’m trying to understand what is the them of their magic in EX3 beyond shapeshifting. Gaia is their link to animal forms. Do they call upon her aid (or that of her children) to do their bidding? If they are Loki…how? Is Lunars being on the forefront of Sorcery and Necromancy with Solars still a thing?

9. Turn the Solar/Lunar bond on it’s head. Does the bond drive the actions of some Solars in the 2nd Age? Does the oaths and memories of the Solars/Abyssals/Infernals drive them to seek and redress wrongs done against their mates and companions?

10. John once did a “What Liminals think about each of the other Exalted?” break down. I’d love to hear the thought of Getimians on various beings!

John:
1. The theme of the Solars echoes the larger theme of Exalted. They have returned, the heroes of old, to break the chains of bondage that are pulling their world down into darkness. But what is light and glory for some is horror and death for others.

2. Deserve is a tricky word. We want to revisit them later in the edition, but it is a bit early to speculate on when/how.

3. More info on this later in the edition.

4. Liminals constantly struggle to be human.

5. He has other followers.

6. Not at all.

7. More on this later.

8. Re: Druidism: Not really, no. Lunar magic is focused through their bodies. It is heavily based on shapeshifting and physicality. Not command of the world or command of reality, but command of self. Re: sorcery and necromancy: no, we have moved away from that vision.

9. We’ve left this up to the individual characters to decide, through their own Intimacies. It makes for much more natural gameplay. (You can develop an Intimacy based on a past life memory.)

10. That only worked because what Liminals think can be put in uniform. They are a task-based Exalt with a general consensus and a very similar perspective from one to the next. The Getimians are puppets—a big part of the Getimian experience is whether the player can cut the strings. That’s not something that should happen at character creation, as with Abyssals who go renegade before the game ever begins. With Getimians, self-discovery and the formation of opinions greater than those imparted by Rakan Thulio are a big part of the story, so to reject them outright is to rush past one of the core elements of gameplay. I say all this because the Getimians don’t have a uniform feeling about the other Exalted. They only have what Thulio has given them. Individual Getimians forming opinions on the other Exalted is a matter of individual character development and not for me to say. Whereas Liminal views on the other Exalted come on the level of observers who have been around for awhile, it doesn’t work for Getimians because they are mostly new.


Aysez:
Since the truly awesome charm trees and such are being replaced by the (yawn, imho) ability based charm set, will there be any type of exalt have those really, really cool charm structures?

Lea:
We don’t want people to think of their characters’ attributes and abilities as extraneous to the traits they possess which really matter.

John:
Solar Charms represent things Solars do, rather than things Solar Charms do. Take it one step further: Abilities represent things pulp fantasy heroes do. Solar Charms represent the outlying and most breathtaking demonstrations of the Abilties, or what pulp fantasy heroes can do. This is where the game gets its focus.


Isator Levie:
I’ve gathered that the tone of the setting is now going to build more strongly on how the prior Editions had intermittent references to how the lack of resources and know-how meant that even making Artifacts people had grown to regard as simple and low-grade like daiklaves was uncommon and difficult.

Could that possibly open up a new niche for the Mountain Folk, particularly in terms of their relationship with the Realm? Namely in the idea that, say, when a Dynast wants to commission a shiny new daiklave as a graduation present for her daughter, she commissions it from somebody among the Mountain Folk, who still largely have the means to manufacture such things? Or at least an initial product, or some of the tools, that a Realm artisan can then polish off.

I’d think it might also help give the Jadeborn an image outside of the “secret super advanced magitech empire lying just below the surface”, which has some problems.

John:
We are returning to the original idea of the Mountain Folk.


Gaius of Xor:
Given this, would you be able to clarify what sort of capabilities, say, Intelligence-focused Lunars might have? I can see how shapeshifting and physicality spring from and lend themselves to the physical and social attributes, but the mental ones don’t feel as obvious to me.

I had wondered if that vision quest Charm that Vance wrote (from an Ink Monkey Bones on Eric’s blog) could be a pointer, drawing off barbarian shamanic inspirations as it does, but I don’t know that it jives with physicality. Or is it possible I’m reading “physicality” more narrowly than you intend?

I also recall hearing before EX3 that some Lunar oneiromantic Charms were under consideration, and a more recent (if quite old) remark from Stephen that the Fair Folk hit “psychedelic dream tropes” that are different from the ones Lunars hit. Do these comments still have some bearing on your current plans?

John:
Re: Mental: We’re still working on it.

Re: vision quest Charm by Vance: I don’t know, I’ve never read it.

Re: Lea: Probably a really old piece of info.


Isator Levie:
Do you guys ever read accounts of real life ancient cultures in order to get references for style and lifestyle points?

I’ve been reading some rather fascinating things about insights from archaeology into Celtic art and science…

John:

Holden:
Yep, also cultures, economics… currently reading Kara Cooney’s The Woman Who Would be King. I highly recommend it, along with Debt: the First 5,000 Years.

Absolutely.


LC1984:
What ability charmset for the Solars was the most difficult to come up with?

What is your take on Mushi-Shi, does it fit into Exalted?

Will the pictures for armors be a little more fitting for Exalted, especially for the heavy armor (2nd Edition did a bad job there IMHO)?

What beings count as spirits, never really figured that out? Gods, Demons, Ghost and Elementals?

How is the work going for the charms from the KS-supporters and for Arms of the Chosen?

Will there be an artifact staff?

John:
1) I probably poured the most time and effort into Awareness. Craft and Lore were hard, too.

2) I’ve never read it.

3) Yes.

4) Gods, demons, ghosts, and elementals.

5) Not going to start that until the KS-supporters have access to the Solar Charm set.

6) In Arms of the Chosen.


Mostlyjoe:
1. Will each Exalted have unique Evocation mechanics? Like alterations or themes on their use unique to them?

2. Will there be any new similarity to Solars and their kin of Abyssal/Infernals? Not mirror charms, etc, but rather thematic hints they were all once the same? (Especially since Internals are getting a major revamp it seems.)

3. New setting books will be tied to lore? Events, etc? How do you wish to put out updated gazetteer books with out redoing the N, S, E, W, Center format?

4. Is it possible to see a snapshot of the new page format with out any rule spoilers? I’m honestly curious about the new layout!

5. Are you dreaming up unique Realm/House based merits for Dragonbloods? Is the idea of unique merit sets for each Exalt exciting?

6. What is the longest any Getimian has been around?

7. How long can Liminals ‘live/unlive’?

8. How strong of a defense can a Heroic Mortal put up in social combat to avoid Solar social-fu?

9. You seem less worried about theme overlap, does that mean we might seem similar charms for different Exalted? Or domains of power?

10. In 1E and 2E playing a Eclipse who could make NPCs jump from mental influence was some of my best fun. Just how HIGH can I make NPCs jump in 3E? (if I asked them very, very, politely…obeyobeyobey

John:
1 & 2: Safe bet.
3: There will be setting books, but they will be organized to take up wider swaths of Creation so there will be fewer.
4: Not at this time.
5: Maybe/yes.
6 & 7: No comment.
8: Totally context sensitive. It would be tough to get somewhere with a mortal who hates you. Depends on what Charms you have and how far you are willing to go to pull his strings.
9: There will be some similar Charms. We are concerned with clarifying and outlining significant “play spaces” of the Chosen so that they don’t become homogeneous Exalted.
10: We shall see.


LC1984:
Another question, is the new character sheet already finished? Or is this a separate task from editing?

With all the basic groundwork you did, how is the work going for the Dragonblooded book? Will there be another KS for it?

What will you do, the moment Exalted 3rd is released to the public?

John:
1) No character sheet yet!
2) Vance is finished or nearly finished with draft one of the Dragon-Blooded Charms. As for the KS, it’s not my call, but I do believe we will run a Kickstarter for it.
3) I will thank all the writers who busted their ass in draft after draft to get it done, my boss for the amazing art job, the fans for waiting so patiently, and the many people who supported me and helped me pay my bills through the last year-long push. Then I will get back to work on the next book.


Holden:
Mortals can’t use Charms because they have no ability to manipulate Essence to do anything but be alive. If you have a mortal NPC who is great at X, give them a big dice pool.

Generally speaking, and especially where Solars are concerned, an Exalt drawing upon his Essence is often externally indistinguishable from a “holy shit” display of personal prowess (because that’s fundamentally what it is– the Exalt is just so good when he pushes himself that he can routinely manage what would be “stays on the highlight reel for a decade” feats of prowess in the real world).

(There are, obviously, exceptions– no mere mortal, no matter how deep he reaches and how hard he pushes, can jump 30 feet straight up.)

John:
Axioms from past editions are cool, but they limit my ability to comment.

For example, one particular Solar Athletics Charm allows a burst of strength sufficient to tow a barge away from a waterfall, hurl a mammoth, and other similar feats of strength.

Lord Raziere:
So…..when a Solar uses a charm to do things…..he literally can’t not do it? as in, his action is locked into doing it completely excellently? he can’t say intentionally fail at being so excellent when does a solar charm? you can’t say, pull off a Solar Charm in a sucky way or anything? like all his movements become the best possible movements regularly, he never stumbles, he makes every sword swing a form of art, almost never forgets something, his words just….become more eloquent and charismatic no matter what he actually tries to say? like when he flexes his excellence muscle, he can’t not be excellent when doing so?

Holden:
Solars don’t use Charms to do things.

If a Solar is, I don’t know, playing basketball, and he tries to throw the game, burning Essence to do so for some reason, then he’s very expertly placing those shots so they bounce off the rim or doink the backboard or whatever.

Lea:
Exalts “Use Essence” the same way people “Use muscles.”

Lea:
You’re not forced to have your character use Charms.

You can choose to not use Charms, in the same way that a strong guy might choose to, you know, not put a lot of effort into lifting something because who cares? A good negotiator can just not bother to negotiate well, he can fail to hold his tongue, not pay attention to what reactions his tactics are garnering even though he very easily could, swear casually even though he knows he’s negotiating with someone from a culture that puts great stock in politeness, or whatever.

An expert basketball player can deliberately blow a game by missing very precisely, as Holden described, or can just not keep his head in the game, think about other stuff, play sloppily, not pay attention to whether he’s traveling or not, put no effort into his shots, etc.. Even for very skilled people, acting at the highest level of skill requires a degree of care and attention they are totally capable of not bothering to do.

It’s just that… for a Solar, “using” Charms feels a lot like getting into a good stance before lifting that rock so the weight is borne by your legs and not your back. It feels like paying attention to what the guy across the table from you wants, so you can take that into account when you make your bid. It feels like paying attention when you shoot, so the ball goes into the basket. It doesn’t feel like this other thing you do entirely separate from that, which layers magic on top of it. It’s an extension of your skill.

Lea:
Okay. Raziere, have you ever caught your balance? Have you ever started to fall, and then had that moment of awareness when you realize you’re falling, and then experienced that almost transcendent moment of “Oh! If I move like this, I’ll catch myself!”

And then you move like that, and catch yourself.

To some extent, Solar Charms live in that moment of transcendent awareness and the almost thoughtless reflexive action that follows.

John:
Solar Charms aren’t spells. They aren’t things you release that act independently to control you, your environment, or others.

They are manifestations of your skill and control. They coincide with and magnify what you are doing. They require you. They are you. They are so ingrained in individual Solars as to disappear completely.

Remnant Whisper leaps to the top of the Resplendent Pagoda of True Breath. He isn’t using Mountain-Crossing Leap Technique. He’s an atavistic incarnation of the sun god; he moves on the air and through the sky on a whim, pushing Essence through his legs. To look at the Charm is to miss Remnant Whisper, and it is to miss the point.

“Its like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.” -Bruce Lee

Ranger_Lord:
Okay but like… Exalts are aware of their mote pools, yes? A Solar who doesn’t use Essence is not necessarily just choosing not to bring his “A-game” because he doesn’t feel like it, so much as he might realize he needs the Essence for something later, right?

Lea:
I’d say, in the same way that people are aware of their Willpower pools.

(I would actually go so far as to say that “Choosing whether or not to spend a Willpower point for a success” is basically the mortal equivalent of “Choosing whether or not to use a Charm,” but that may be too much.)

Yo! Master:
So much as someone realizes they should not tire themselves out now because they might need to do something physically exhausting later (before they have a chance to rest enough), is what i’ve gathered.

Lea:
I think you present it as more rational and dispassionate than people actually experience it. Choosing to push yourself and bring your A-game is just as much about giving a shit in the moment as it is about cost/benefit analysis.

Ranger_Lord:
In 2e a “mote” was the smallest unit of Essence savants could reliably measure. It was a quantifiable unit of energy in-setting arcanists understood. Does the definition change in 3e?

Lea:
I’m going to go with “Motes are a known quantity, but that doesn’t mean people experience their mote pools as numerical totals, any more than you experience your energy reserves as a number of calories.”

Aquillion:
Like I said, I think that if you’re at the point where you’re saying “extending my soul to allow the expression of my combat excellence in the form of a glowing ethereal sword I can pull from nowhere” is not magic, then the argument is more philosophical than practical, and isn’t likely to have a concrete answer beyond “magic is an imprecise term which may not always be useful.”

John:
What it really means is that forging your Essence into the form of a weapon doesn’t pass for magic with a capital M in Creation, but the conventions of language still require that it be referred to as magic.

Re: Sidereals: Not all Exalts work the way Solars do.

Holden:
Yeah. The existence of sorcerers/sorcery does a lot to set the tone of how people regard magicians in Creation.

John:
In western thought, magic has always hinged on the definition of the occult. Look up the etymology of the word occult before you read the rest of this post, otherwise it won’t make sense to you.

In certain eastern schools of thought, life energy flows through the body, through the chakra, and can be directed through meditation, breathing, efficacious motions, etc. This is considered something wholly natural, ie not occult, and therefore, the west-centric view of magic doesn’t apply.

Exalted weds both of these thought styles together. Occult is the gateway to sorcery. It covers a notional kind of non-science, the laws of the uncanny that are ever-changing and often only instinctively known. But it also has Essence, which is much like chi, the known (in many circles only hypothetically) force that moves through and flows from all things, and can be harnessed for great power. The Exalted have adapted the western viewpoint on Sorcery. They consider it to be different from Charms. Charms and Essence channeling through Charms fits a more eastern conception of chi movement and supernatural martial arts techniques. The Exalted are never described as seeing these things as works of sorcery, though they are often described as seeing them as “magic” as in “the magic of the Solar Exalted” etc. Solars are never considered magicians for using Charms, however, which tells you that the writers are grafting the western conception of magic over something that is incompatible with that definition.

Irked:
1) The authors really, really want to move away from what they perceive to be the 2e fan reaction of, “My character doesn’t do X; rather, my character activates a Charm, and the Charm does X.” It appears to be their view that Charms-as-techniques, particularly Charms as techniques held in common by all Solars, contributed to this feel. To counteract that, they’re pushing as hard as they can for, “Solar Charms are just a way to mechanically describe how much skill you have!”

John:
I wrote the entire Charm set this way, and the methodology is thoroughly discussed at the front of the chapter. I made the decision to do this long before I ever started writing for Exalted. I did not like the way Solar Charms drifted from First Edition feats that required logical coherence and expressions of skill, to video gamey bits that were independent of the character. So while it is true that attrition played a part in my Developer-decision to pull the Charm set back from the brink, the claim that it was in reaction to the players is a very inaccurate one.

We work in terms of what is most fun, and most coherent for the game overall. We judged that Solars who feel like they are doing things using Charms that are limited by their coincidence with doing really amazing stunts and expressing the greatness of your character’s Abilities was a lot better for the health of Exalted than fire and forget Charms that work without any logical effort on the part of the player or the character. This is a game of epic myth, so characters should be epic and they should be mythical. The EX3 Charms encourage this way of thinking.

The fact that players broke down into arguing about the legitimacy of Solars “because Solar Charms do everything effortlessly” and “the players play the shittiest, laziest characters possible” only confirmed what I always thought. Also, we’re not “pushing for it.” The book is written. This is the way it is. It has been wildly successful with 99.9% of the playtesters.

Irked:
2) Regardless of the desirability of the goal, it’s not yet clear whether the approach actually entirely makes sense. It seems to me that Scutarii’s original question was designed to highlight or clarify some of the… what, ontological friction? Something like that. That is: if the-mechanical-thing-called-Solar-Charms is really just a game label for superlative human skill, shouldn’t superlative non-Solar humans display the same thing?

John:
“Just what a human can do” in the context of mythology is a gigantic list of things that are absolutely impossible. I made comparisons to Batman when talking about this before. Batman performs a number of feats we draw from for Night Caste Solars. For example, Batman can dodge bullets at point blank range. The Mythbusters showed that this is absolutely impossible. Even at a hundred or two hundred yards it’s not possible. But Batman can do it. This is the kind of space Solar Charms occupy. It’s not just “what humans can do” because that’s a nonsense interpretation. You don’t need a Charm to hop a fence, open a door, or throw a punch.

You do need one to throw a counterattack or use dual wield the way a Final Fantasy character would, which is an example of where the issue is complicated by what the system will allow. Mortals can dual wield, but they’re not getting the kind of benefit a Steel Devil stylist would.

Rather, Solar Charms are an expression of skill. Human skill obviously, because, what else would it be? Duck skill? Cloud skill? Twilight Sparkle skill? They come from your mortal skills because that is what mythic feats usually are. Will Graham’s Ability to reconstruct an entire series of events by focusing, gaining a psychic level understanding of what happened? That’s a Solar Investigation Charm. Dodging a lightning bolt while holding the rod it’s striking? That’s Solar Dodge.

Sure, a mortal combat master in leather armor could flip a table on two enemies, strike the guy closest to him and crash out a first story window and escape without Charms. But that’s a mortal combat master in armor. And he’d better be wearing thick gloves and arm guards, and a helmet. Because any of the cuts he gets could get infected and kill him days later. Also, he’d better not be wearing plate, because even if he doesn’t break his hip doing that kind of a leap, he’s going to have a hard time getting up. But a Solar who is merely tough could pull the same trick with Dexterity 1 and butt ass naked, and never take a cut. And if he did, he could will the wound shut (no serious bleeding) and laugh off an infection. He could outrun the combat master while wearing full plate. Even at Dexterity 1. All of this provided he has trained his Essence and body to deliver this kind of output. If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty, it is not helpful to think of his traits, equipment and Charms as different things. His Charms are wed to the other two things, expanding, flowing from, and mimicking those things in an intimate flow of Essence. The Solar has a huge leg up on the mortal master with fewer traits because he can channel his Essence to magnify the aggregate result of using his traits and equipment.

Irked:
Because if superlative non-Solar humans can’t, then Charms aren’t just superlative human skill; there’s something else going on there.

John:
No, not at all. Nobody thinks Batman or Conan or Sherlock Holmes or Will Graham are using magic when they do impossible things. Things happen in fantasy stories that can’t actually happen in real life. Real life is not the yardstick that matters. Solar power as a magnification or emphasis of human heroics, rather than magic, is an actual, sensible thing in the context of Exalted. The Exalted do actually recognize sorcerers as something else, something different.

Irked:
The obvious candidate for “something else,” given that these effects are attained only by magic people and, often, only when they use some of their magic, is that Charms are actually magical extensions of human skill, which seems at least slightly counter to point (1).

John:
Anything impossible is magic from a western pov. It’s more important to look at how the Charms are modeled, where they come from, what they’re doing, and how the Exalts and gods of the setting see/experience them and what they think of them. Exalted see Sorcerers as magicians, not Solars in general. We’re not of the opinion that everything that moves Essence or has Essence is magical, because when magic is so prevalent it loses meaning and its ability to convey any sort of interesting or important information and turns boring.

Dr. Tran:
It reminds me of what the elves thought about magic in The Lord of the Rings. “‘For this is what your folk would call magic, I believe: though I do not understand clearly what they mean; and they seem to use the same word of the deceits of the Enemy.” They don’t see it as supernatural, it is just stuff that happens when they do things.

John:
That’s a great way of looking at it.

ADamiani:
Well….. OK, but Sherlock Holmes doesn’t have the thirty-foot-high glowing image of deerstalker cap and magnifiying glass fly in when he makes a particularly insightful bit of analysis, so it’s easy to get confused?

Overshee:
Maybe he’s so good that he’s never had to spend peripheral essence in public

If we’re doing the ‘essence is a muscle’ analogy, is the anima banner sweat?

Holden:
Pretty much. 1e described it as the friction of over-exertion, loose power spilling out into your anima and illuminating it– something gods are not subject to because spending Essence is natural to them, whereas it’s not for human beings.

Thirdtwin:
…Okay.

Martial arts charms are still discrete moves though right? Because I mean, yeah, natural expressions of skill and excellence as a non-discrete thing so you’re not pressing your buttons and waiting for your cooldowns, I’m okay with that, but if I can’t yell Rising Dragon Fist or have exchanges like this in the middle of fights and have that have significance to the characters themselves instead of just being an abstracted just-that-goodness then I’ll just sort of be kind of miffed a little.

Lea:
Yeah, MA is still playing by kung fu movie rules.

Thirdtwin:
I would totally buy “stand on a blade of grass” as natural, but “projecting a previously non-real glowy weapon out of literally nowhere (as opposed to having a real weapon hidden up your wherever)” is really hard for me to grasp as anything but magic. I could even buy the “teleport a previously existing weapon” charm as natural, because you could have, indeed, hidden it up your wherever previously. But when we’re talking conjuring things out of literal nothing, that’s not a capability that has an analogue in “pure human” capability, even for broad definitions of “pure human,” that I’m aware of at least. Hercules may be bad-ass at fighting but he didn’t conjure his bow out of nothing, he carried the damn thing around with him.

Wretch:
On the other hand, Ogami Itto could parry his enemies’ blades with just the stub of his katana because to him the whole blade was still there.

Thirdtwin:
Yeah, but did he actually manifest a hard-light construct made of his “my sword is still there-ness”? Yes, everything’s different in 3e, but if Glorious Solar Saber is still roughly what it was previously, then that’s the thing that’s happening. …isn’t it?

John:
Glorious Solar Saber: It’s not hard light. I mean, it gives off light. It is formed from Solar Anima and Essence.

John:
Standing on a blade of grass and forming a sword out of nothing are both equally weird and magical things. I’m not arguing a semantic definition of what you or anyone else considers magic.


Cassandra:
I have a simple question! If the caste mark of a Solar is showing does it feel like skin or gold if you touch it?

John:
It feels like skin. You might sense the concentrated Essence flow if you are sensitive to such things.

Doleco:
That is such a bizarre and interesting question. Here’s a mundane followup, do caste marks shine through anything covering them, such as a bandanna or helmet? I recall reading something about this, but don’t remember the specifics.

John:
They do. It is nigh impossible to hide one under clothing or armor.


John:
Yes, you absolutely will be able use the Exigent hardback to build Essence-based Exalts (2e style Infernals), Attribute Exalts, and Ability Exalts.


Dr. Tran:
A Solar can do the Smooth Criminal Lean without special shoes and a floor nail.

John:
Literally true. See Exalted: Third Edition.


Dr. Tran:
As somebody who loves Creation, but it getting a little burnt out on fantasy based superheroes, how well would the core book serve for heroic mortal gaming?

John:
Pretty darn fun. There are plenty of monsters and beasts that make a great challenge for heroic mortals without being impossible to defeat.


Kahbiel:
Can you talk a bit about small, circumstantial changes to one’s combat style change one’s ability? I remember in 2nd Edition, where every swing of the sword was a discrete mechanical thing, it was easy to see why one would or wouldn’t want to dual wield, or would choose this weapon over that one. What I’ve heard about 3rd is that you will be removing a lot of this to make a smoother and less abuse prone system; can you tell us (in a hand-wavey non-spoilery way) how some of these discreet combat differences may manifest in the upcoming system?

Holden:
I would like to, but it’s going to be kind of difficult given the sheer scope of the differences between EX3 and any other combat engine White Wolf’s ever put out. It’s kind of like asking how you’re going to change gears without a stick shift… in the stealth jet fighter you just built. The paradigm change is rather larger than the scope of the question.


Wuse_Major:
I do have a question now. If “Essence use” is “natural,” then “Sorcery” is generally considered “unnatural.” So, is this a just common perception thing and Sorcery isn’t actually any more unnatural than, say, Engineering (which looks at the laws of physics and turns them to our use, to serve our purposes) or is it really true and Sorcery actually warps and violates the Laws of Creation?

Ghosthead:
It’s like pulp sorcery as it would be in a world where Li Mu Bai or Ryu are present and the talents they have to understand how fundamental energies or essences flow behind things and the exercises they use to put that in to practice are still also somewhat of a single cloth with the practice of sorcery (and one where the ceiling for where Li Mu Bai and Ryu can go through their talents is probably a fair bit higher than in their default genres, to the degree it can encroach on sorcery in terms of sheer power).

Holden:
Good comparison. I like to think of it as like a fight between Ryu and Doctor Strange. Both of them are doing ‘magical’ things, where ‘magical’ means ‘impossible,’ but a bystander would be likely to characterize Ryu as practicing spiritual martial arts, where Doctor Strange is obviously doing magic.

Wuse_Major:
Either way, what does the Occult skill let you do other than Sorcery? Anything?

John:
Very smart question. Wait and see!


Mostlyjoe:
Have you considered some of the weird omissions in Artifacts? Like I’ve never seen good weapons for Night Class characters. Running around with Daiklaves doesn’t seem to make sense. Why not smaller knives, or other such tools? They always showed up at niche weapons and I thought it was a weird omission.

In the new Evocation rules can I have a minor artifact (1 dot) and still develop a huge tree of evocations for it? Is there a limitation to number of Evocations/Power to merit rating?

Holden:
3 dots is the lowest you can go and still get Evocations out of an artifact. 2 dots are the lowest-rated artifacts in EX3. There exist subtle artifact weapons designed for assassins and the like.

Isator Levie:
Should one take this to mean that while things such as Collars of Dawn’s Cleansing Light might still exist in the setting, the book doesn’t really bother assigning them a rating meant to imply that they’re worth spending character creation resources on?

Lea:
It mostly means that some artifacts formerly rated at one dot are now rated at two. “The basic daiklave,” in turn (to the extent that there’s such a thing anymore now that they’re all explicitly one-of-kind and never mass-produced), which used to be rated at two, is now three.

John:
It has a magical power that isn’t an Evocation.

Wuse_Major:
Interesting. Why no 1 dot Artifacts? I’d have thought there were some artifacts (or thaumaturgically enchanted items) that simply were not worth more than a 1 dot rating.

Also, what the high end look like? What is the maximum number of dots for the Artifact Merit? Are there still artifacts that are more powerful than that?

Holden:
It’s a setting statement– this isn’t the First Age, there are no ubiquitous magical conveniences in this era. A winterbreath jar is something worth committing murder to procure for a wealthy patron. In a pre-modern world, “I am the only man in Chiaroscuro who can eat ice cream in the spring, summer, or fall, or offer it to my guests” is a huge status coup, and an incredibly decadent pleasure to partake in.

rikalous:
What’s this change in how artifacts are treated mean for Realm and Lookshy Dragonblood access to them? I mean, in 2E they got a one-dot artifact without needing to actually put points into the background.

Lea:
Lookshy still has their signature artifacts, but way way less of them. They’re a lot more like their Scavenger Sons portrayal flavored a bit by their Outcastes portrayal than they are like their Outcastes portrayal taken straight.


Gaius of Xor:
1) Are Evocations strictly or mostly the province of the Exalted and humanity, or can non-human entities develop any? e.g. Can a raksha or Dragon King with a powerful artifact weapon potentially pull out some form of Evocation, or some analog thereof?

2) From previous quotes, it’s clear an artifact’s composition is a super-important factor in what it can do, re: Evocations and non-Evocation powers. Will the corebook or Arms of the Chosen describe the sort of benefits one might get from substances beyond the classical magical materials? e.g. Maybe Chiaroscuro glass, gossamer, Malfean brass, etc.

3) Can an artifact be made from only mundane materials? For instance, can a family’s ancestral steel blade, weighty with history, potentially be an artifact, or would its value* come mostly in how it can carry its history with it if reforged into a daiklave?

* Aside the vast sentimental variety.

John:
1) At the moment, only the Chosen use Evocations. It may change.

2) We’ll see!

3) It could be reforged into a daiklave. Unless innately magical it can’t be considered an Artifact.


Mr Stabs:
Dear devs: Tell us of the Kung-fu future! What other martial arts will be coming up next?

Holden:
Which ones would you want to see?

SrGrvsaLot:
Mantis style. Not necessarily the same mantis style we had before, but at least something called “mantis” to round out the basic animal styles. (Is it just me or is it really weird that we didn’t get Crane style until late 2e?)

Holden:
That was super-weird! It’s part of why we did Crane.

Gayo:
What non-core MA are the writers most looking forward to doing later in the line?

Lea:
I personally am looking forward to 3e’s take on Obsidian Shards of Infinity, assuming it gets covered again, but mostly because I like the screams of anguish and denial I get out of Holden every time I mention to him that it’s conceptually a cool style and we should totally do it well this time.


You can find the next compilation here:
Q&A Summary #4