Month: September 2015

Ask an Exalted Writer!

Now that I’ve exhausted every major vein of Exalted developer quotes that I’m aware of, I’ve been mulling over some more substantial blog posts. However, my brain is still effervescing with 3e material for upcoming drafts, and for the moment I’d rather keep my creative energies aimed in that direction.

In the interim, if anyone would like to ask me questions about Exalted (or anything else), feel free to do so in the comments! I can’t provide substantive 3e spoilers, of course, but beyond that, ask away, and I’ll answer as best I’m able.

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“Exalted 3: Has anything gone right?” Thread Summary

Here’s more developer quotes, this time from an RPG.net thread about Ex3’s development and release, particularly regarding how the leaked material impacted the process.


Rand Brittain:
Charles “Plague of Hats” Spaulding left the writing team.

Charles:
To be clear, I left in a huff (over a legitimate problem), then acted like a goober for a year culminating in an embarrassing tantrum. In retrospect, I don’t think this was a great loss for the project, anyway.


Mengtzu:
Exalted 3 makes a great deal of sense if you view it as a huge project that always needed years of iteration; in that respect it’s gone fine to any reasonable standard for big projects that need iteration.

For various reasons lots of people have been running around without this understanding (including I assume the dev team because if software teaches us anything it’s underestimating the development of systems is perfectly normal). Much of the Internet drama can be explained by this mismatch.

Holden:
This is basically how RPG design -should- work, but very rarely has ever had the opportunity to unless your name is Wizards of the Coast, because for most of the hobby’s history, you had to publish fast and publish constantly, or run out of money and die. When it doesn’t work this way, you get… well, you get the Lores in Demon: the Fallen (primary writer became terribly ill, had to be replaced at last possible moment), or the three-ring disaster that was Exalted: the Fair Folk or Exalted: the Lunars (similar issues), or any other book one would care to name which the creators knew damn well was not the book they wanted to create, but which had to go out the door now.

Solarn:
My biggest problem with the whole process (which I’ve gotten banned from the “Ask the developers” threads for) was that they stubbornly refused to acknowledge people’s problems with the original draft or even engage meaningfully with the people complaining right up until they decided to redo the whole thing.

Holden:
I believe you’re thinking of some other game, because that does not reflect anything that actually happened.

Solarn:
Yeah, it did happen. There was a long stretch of time when you responded to every complaint with a variation of “we’re sure that people will like the finished product” which is the most aggravating PR nonsense ever, when people were begging for something specific, even if it was just “I hear you, but I am not allowed/don’t think it would be a good idea to talk about particulars of the game”.

Holden:
How is that “rewriting the game after ignoring criticisms of the original draft?” The biggest time-eating major rewrites happened before any packets were sent out to playtesters. You are making that up.

There has never been a point where I had a public dialogue with non-playtesters about the specific contents of any written draft of the game. You are making that up.


SuperG:
mmmm. Personally, I think the long run-time on the game is probably a great idea and I have no complaints about that.

I just have two other complaints:

1) I wish we’d known, I cancelled a game several years early for apparently no reason because it wasn’t clear I’d be waiting until 2015… but split milk.
2) I wish they’d made a completely different game.

Because seriously, I just disagree with them about bedrock fundamentals. Like “are Ability Charms a good idea?” and “should Solars be THE heroes of the game line?”

Seriously, I have every reason to expect they’ll deliver a game designed with competency possibly unmatched in the history of roleplaying games. They have consistently portrayed a singular vision of what the game should be and not been afraid to say “you, fan? This thing you like? We are removing it because it makes the game worse.”

That is the attitude I want game designers to have. Game design by committee works about as well as anything else by committee.

AliasiSudonomo:
I confess that with your second point, I don’t think you were ever going to be happy with Exalted Third Edition, just like the people who apparently were hoping they’d ditch this silly Storyteller system and go with FATE, or something.

That said, the other big difference between Exalted 3 and the other OPP kickstarters: stuff like Vampire/Werewolf/Mage20 are relatively simple jobs. By which I don’t intend to minimize the work they were – each received substantial mechanical and setting adjustment – but they weren’t the total engine-and-transmission overhauls that Exalted needed. I think the developers went in with the honest intent of writing “2.5, but smoother” and found out the whole works were rotten enough to need ripping out.

I’m also confident that Exalted 3 will be the Team Fortress 2 of RPGs in this sense; laughed at as vaporware right up until it releases and everyone forgets how long it took.

Holden:
We never intended to do “2.5 but smoother.” Things like momentum-based combat, personality-and-goal-oriented social influence, and not having a separate mass combat system were design objectives from day one.

They were also things that nobody else had ever really done before, at least the way we had it in mind to do them, so we had to invent nearly every subsystem from scratch. It turns out, that takes a lot of time.


Scutarii:
Furthermore this layout process has not yet crossed the line in what Holden at least considers an acceptable time frame (if I am parsing this comment correctly, I may not be and if so then I apologise and please correct me if so)

http://forum.theonyxpath.com/forum/m…462#post335462

So we’ve still got six-seven months before it’s too long in layout. And based on the progress on the Monday notes it won’t take that long.

Holden:
I’m not a layout person, art director, etc, I know nothing about the process or how it works. I have no opinion on what constitutes “too long.” I know that doing layout on an EX2 book at the end of EX2 took about a month, but that was using a pre-existing template, fonts, etc, and really miniscule art budget. (I think we had two illustrations per chapter in Masters of Jade? EX3 is probably closer to one illustration every third page.) EX3 is designing a new layout template from scratch and there are sections of the book that will use significant deviations from whatever that template ends up being. That’s a process totally outside my experience.

Coikzer:
Now I’m not saying that they should put up the rough draft they sent to Maria for us to read. But, fucksake…give us one Charm a week. Give us an overview of Intimacies or the combat system or an excerpt from setting chapter. What I’m getting at is that there’s a happy medium between dead silence and putting the entire book up for people to look at.

Holden:
We did every single thing you just mentioned, many of them multiple times. Charm previews, social stuff, combat system concept sketch, Charm trees, Evocation diagrams, antagonists, fiction, Merits, many setting material excerpts. A bunch of text has been previewed. It would be nice if people would stop saying there have been no previews on that front.

You’re getting art and etc updates now because that’s what’s being processed and frankly because I haven’t been on the corebook for months now. Dev-side, we’ve got our hands full with Arms, Dragon-Blooded, the Realm, and mapping out plans for Towers of the Mighty and the books that come right after it. The corebook is in production’s hands right now.

Blaque:
I remember one of the first things about the attempts at Charm previews was folks bitching that Taboo-Inflicting Diatribe was too weak because all it inflicted was had been Major Intimacies. This is becuase folks went at it like it was 2e, and assumed Intamcies were toothless and that the Charm as a result was a useless hyper-nerf. My perception might be skewed, mind.

Lea:
I mostly remember people complaining that the preview of that early version of 3e’s Taboo-Inflicting diatribe wasn’t a diatribe and didn’t inflict a taboo.

Kremlin KOA:
Include some art pieces. Maybe one of the chapter fiction bits. Hell if they want to hapmmer home the ‘this is much better than the leak version’ publish a changed charm or 5.
Those things could lead to the hype being at a nice simmer, or even a boil, when the book releases.

Holden:
Hey those are great ideas.

We’ve already been doing every single one of them.


PirateBrd:
3. The Ex3 team appears to lack confidence in their own product. To borrow a mantra from the days of Nixon, “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.” If you have a product you believe is very good, and someone distributes information about it, you should have no reason to fear.

Holden:
In this instance, you are mistaking murderous rage for trepidation.

gourdcaptain:
Umm well that explains a lot. Also not a response I was expecting to see at all.

Holden:
Having some asshole attempt to hijack control of a project you’ve poured three years of your life into leaves a man a wee bit salty, what can I say.

Solarious:
I don’t entirely blame you for your trepidation, seeing a few people latch onto a few tiny details and spawn thousands of posts screaming about them one way or another, to the utter exclusion of about 99.9% of the material. There are downsides, ones that I would like to do away with, but these are downsides I can live with at least.

Korhal_IV:
Actually, I think Holden meant that his linked post was full of murderous rage, not trepidation. I think you got his meaning reversed.

Holden:
My general silence on the subject and unwillingness to embrace the theft of my work, not that post in particular.

Vance:
The leak was unquestionably and unambiguously to the game’s detriment. Like, not even a close call.

Paradim:
The big question is how does Onyx Path Publishing deal with the existence of the leak. Other companies have dealt with unintentional leaks before where they’ve turned the leak into an asset for promoting their product. It’s a question of whether to attempt damage control and to see if the leak can be spun to better the company instead of hurting the company.

Vance:
Exalted will benefit the most if everyone involved is spending their time improving the game, not trying to wring some positive spin out of a leak.


Sanctaphrax:
I get why you’re angry.

But the leak turned out to be to the game’s benefit, so you should probably at least try to desalinate yourself. Ultimately it seems that they did you a favour by betraying your trust.

Holden:
So, I understand that you’re trying to be helpful. But, with respect, your particular phrasing is the kind that gets people into fistfights at conventions so you might want to consider that in future.

The thing is, if you read the leak and liked it? Great. It was going to be that good when it came out anyway, and positive word-of-mouth could have began at that point. I understand that your concern is that it relieved the tension of “is the game going to be good or not?” but that’s your concern. As developer, that’s a galaxy away from being my only concern, or even my primary concern. I have a big picture to worry about and the corebook is Step One.

Of course it’s good. I’ve known we were sitting on a great game for years. That has never been a real fear, except sometimes at 4AM when I can’t sleep and all the demons are crawling out of my brain and they’ve chosen “artistic insecurity” rather than “fear of the inevitability of death” or “my mother has survived cancer twice, it’s sure to come back for a third try and how long can an old woman’s luck hold out” or something else as their theme for the evening. But yeah– it’s good. It was always going to be good, and it didn’t matter if you knew it a year ago– you were going to find out when the game dropped and the buzz started.

You know what the leak did? Well, first, it shrunk the pool of people we knew we could trust dramatically and it ensured the game got less playtesting than we’d planned on. So there’s a quality hit. Second, it meant we had to do a lot of work ourselves that we’d had people assisting with, so it made everything take longer, because again– tiny circle of trust. The second leak dropped that circle to “Myself, John, Rich, Maria.” This slowed down work even more.

But that’s my personal sob story, what about the game? (“The Game,” note, not “the corebook.”) Well, what the leak did for the game is it got some positive word-of-mouth going (aside from some loon on Sufficient Velocity telling everyone who’d listen that the game is full of rape Charms, which is, uh, no, those don’t exist). That’s good, right? Positive word-of-mouth is great! People getting excited is an unalloyed positive, right?

Well, not quite. Because excitement has a limited half-life and you have to keep feeding it. I knew I had a big excitement-bomb to set off with the book’s release, and it was up to us to determine when to detonate the fucker, and you know what? Some asshole decided to pull a two-stage detonation a year and then six months ahead of the point where people, all jazzed and energized by the fresh buzz, could actually give Onyx Path money in response to their excitement.

People are now hearing the book is good? They would have heard that on release day, and at that point they could have purchased a copy if they weren’t already backers. Now they’ll have had months for “EX3 is supposedly great, I should pick it up” to fall to the back of their priority stack. For a significant chunk of my audience, the game’s first supplement will not come roaring out hot on the heels of a big release, but rather at a point when the game’s already over a year old for them. The leak robbed me of the ability to control the pacing of my supplement cycle, and the momentum of my release schedule.*

We ran the Kickstarter on faith in the product rather than putting all cards on the table because we’ve got a bigger concern in mind than just the performance of the corebook– we have every book that comes after it to worry about, and all the leak did was make our job harder for the next year, because we have to build momentum from a cold start rather than using the release-cycle acceleration as we designed it to work all this time. So the leak is maybe good for you, today, but it made production harder for the last year and it will continue to make it harder for the year to come, and what that ultimately translates to is worse products which take a longer amount of time to make.

*To be clear, I don’t get paid royalties, I’m a contract worker. I make a flat, non-time-adjusted fee for developing and writing these books: one check, based on wordcount, regardless of how long the job takes. The person most badly hurt by a “take it slow, do it right” approach is me. If the book sells ten copies or ten million copies, I get paid the same. Given the three-year production cycle and the other jobs I’ve turned down to focus on EX3, I am almost certainly going to lose money on the corebook, not make any. I am concerned with strong sales because it gives us a future budget to do more books, bigger books, and to have more art and Kickstarter doodads and gorgeous maps and whatnot.

So yeah, nobody did me any favors by stealing the team’s unfinished work. It might look like they’ve done you a favor (assuming those rules you’ve been spending months internalizing are the same as the rules in the actual corebook– some of them are not), but your short-term benefit is to the long-term detriment of the game line.


Holden:
I have the first-round layout files now, and holy shit, now I understand why designing and implementing layout took several months. You will too, when you see it. Rich and Maria outdid themselves, beyond my wildest and most fevered ambitions and imaginings. This is a) gorgeous and b) easily the most elaborately-designed book to ever bear the White Wolf imprint.

Going to drop everything else this week to get corrections back so you guys can get this as soon as possible. Holy shit.

Prometheus878:
1. Yay!

2. What White Wolf/Onyx Path books are the runners up for most elaborately designed?

Holden:
Hard to say, this is a very different animal than how other gorgeous/brilliant WW books have been put together. If you really want a list I can do one (Requiem 1 would definitely be on it, Scion as well, and certainly M20), but it’d mislead your expectations.

Kath:
If this new layout is so absolutely amazingly fantastic, why not release a preview pdf of half a dozen pages that really show it off? Right now, the leak is the only substantive ‘content update’ that we’ve had in an age – why not take the momentum back from the leak, and get direction of the communications strategy again?

Holden:
I would be very surprised if that’s not the next backer update.

(I don’t actually do the backer updates, you understand.)


Kremlin KOA:
Also i am curious as to why Stephen LS is a leak suspect.

Vance:
Same reason I am. The second leak was so late in the development process that very, very few people should have had access to that document. Given the circumstances, retracting the, I dunno what to call it, “trust circle” is a reasonable measure to take.


Daerim:
Open development is a very different process to more traditional development processes and it does take considerable resources. Note The Demented One’s comments about spending time spinning the leak as opposed to developing the game and The Red Baron’s comments about time, resources and vetting. The shift to “the leak” (as in the publication of unfinished work for the purposes of feedback and promotion) being development of the game is not inconsequential.

Spinning an unintended leak on a project that wasn’t set up to handle it is even more work, because it disrupts schedules and plans that have knock-on effects. Salinating with anger is not the best mindset for anyone to be doing damage control in and you don’t necessarily have the proper people to do a good job of it on hand, either.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of open development, but it isn’t trivially done and even less trivial to do well.

Matt.Ceb:
Err… They’ve already had a few open development projects. Most of them are already completed, too.
Most of the V20 line was done in open development, as was DA20. (Can’t say about W20, haven’t kept up with that.)

Daerim:
Ah, my bad. I mistook the scope of Onyx Path’s takeover of White Wolf. Consider my comments confined to the Exalted team.

IanWatson:
Takeover of releases, yes. Takeover in the corporate sense, no. Onyx Path currently publishes everything with the White Wolf logo on it that isn’t Mind’s Eye Theatre (which is done by By Night Studios), and has done for over three years now.

Just doing a quick rundown and looking at books (so excluding screens, posters, brochures, T-shirts, cards, etc., but including novels, anthologies, and comics), since our first Onyx Path-branded release in 2012 we’ve released:

VTM: 7
WTA: 11
MTAs: 6
DA: 1
Exalted: 2
WOD: 4
VTR: 5
WTF: 2
MTAw: 2
PTC: 1
CTL: 1
HTV: 1
GTS: 1
MTC: 7
DTD: 8

Numbers may vary depending on who’s counting and what they’re including and what they aren’t (Mummy’s core rulebook was sold as-is, but also split up and sold as three or four individual items, but I only counted it once), but as I tabulated that’s a total of 59 releases.

I figure somewhere between two thirds and three quarters of them were done using some degree of open development. It’s something we started doing from the outset: the White Wolf team had just released V20, the first project using open development, in late 2011 just before Black Wednesday, hit which led to the creation of Onyx Path.

It’s never been something we’ve required of any of our developers, though. It’s up to personal taste and how much time has been budgeted to finish a given project.


Gilbetron:
To be clear, the direction taken by you guys after the leaks was your choice. You could have continued as is, or opened it up more putting out alpha/beta drafts (a la D&D 5E) of the whole thing or just pieces. You choose to close it down, so the slowness is on you guys for that choice. There were options.

Holden:
Consider that one of the many reasons we didn’t run an open playtest is that running an open playtest is a GIGANTIC time-suck and the project was already eating ~12 hours out of our days. That would have slowed things down even more.

Gilbetron:
Open development, not open playtest. I understand why you wouldn’t run an open playtest. Open development is obviously within your means as other OPP projects have done so and with less cash than Exalted.

Holden:
The fact that you appear to think the KS money became some kind of operating budget reveals that you have absolutely no idea how this operation works, mate.

Gilbetron:
I’m well aware that the kickstarter was for the deluxe version – another weird OPP thing, but there it is. But a $600k+ Kickstarter almost certainly has an impact on the actual budget of a project. Both explicitly (more color art, a 15% bonus to the creators, +50% more words to the Sorcery section), and implicitly via the “hey, this thing is big” effect where you naturally spend more money on a project to help make sure it meets the goals of the very excited fans as proven by the heavily successful kickstarter.

Blaque:
As I gather, things are put to things they say it would be put to. WHich is art, the special deluxe editions, the bookmarks and so on. Authors for OPP and many RPGs aren’t paid a dime until the book ships in some fashion as far as I can tell. There’s no “operational budget” besides what they’re contractually menat to write, develp and what might be left after things since as I gather, delivering the books is sitll the priority of the KS first. Any operational budget is to the things the budget says it’s oprating to. And shipping and printing these fancy books in themselves is likely going tp eat a huge chunk of things.

This is also barring things like KS charging to host things and as I remember CCP getting a cut upfront since this is technically a licensing deal.

Holden:
Correct.

Isator Levie:
I’m still closer to the mark then the assertion that all of the lower-level pledges get to form some kind of budget that could somehow got towards an open development.

Holden:
Yeah. That would assume that we get paid for time invested in project management which ho ho ho ha ha ha ha no we do not.


Scutarii:
When a goodly number of OPP projects have used Open Dev in one way or another, the KS saying weekly/fortnightly/whatever updates AND getting Charm spoilers AND getting Abyssal and Infernal spoilers early on AND Holden/John being fairly active on the WW forums prior to the KS I don’t think it’s an unfair assumption that people who backed the KS could expect a continuation of what they were already getting, just extended for the duration of the KS delivery time.

Holden:
That was never a realistic option. There was zero movement on the corebook during the month the KS ran, because we spent all our time managing and promoting the thing.

“Lunar Exalted: What Are They to You?” Thread Summary

Back in February, RPG.net produced a sizable thread talking about the Lunar Exalted that received lots of developer attention regarding 3e Lunars (as well as a bit of Exigents discussion). I’ve compiled relevant dev quotes into the following post, threading them together as best I can.

For additional information, I also recommend consulting Holden’s 3e Lunars discussion from 2013, recorded on Chancel Aleph.


Lea:
I almost feel like people are saying we shouldn’t set it up so you need to rip out people’s hearts and eat them in order to access cool animal shapeshifting powers…?

Like, there’s actually an obvious built-in middle ground here between the pacifist who never kills anyone and doesn’t shapeshift and the serial killer who cannibal-murders tons of people and who has a lot of shapeshifting-related powers.


selfcritical:
My main conception of the Lunar is Apex Predator.

Not merely in the physical sense, but as “one who has prey”. For social variants and themes, Anansi and Coyote are inspiration, but physically, the werewolf should still be very much informative.

The Lunar should hunt the mighty, and Bring Them Low, wether in terms of stalking and killing the most dangerous prey, or humiliating and undoing the pretenses of mighty kings.

The Lunar should be able to switch between many faces and many approaches to a situation, adapting to the situation at hand, rather than reshaping the environment.

Where the solar rises to the level of their opposition, the Lunar should learn from failure. I think Wound Mastering Body evolution, while poorly executed, embodies a concept that should appear in Lunar charms.
The Lunar Escapes and Evolves.
The lunar should be both a Cunning Trickster and a Vengeful Monster.

John:
We share and adore this vision in many ways.

Tokezo Tenken:
I guess I have trouble seeing Lunars as apex predators because… well… they aren’t Solars. They have thousands of years of being a thorn in the side of their enemies, but they’ve never brought them down and now the Solars are back to do the job. I’m not trying to be insulting, honestly. I just don’t see managing to avoid extinction as a great ad for being the apex predators.

I don’t know. Like I said, I’ll give whatever comes out for them my best shot.

John:
Exalted is a heavily myth-inspired game. A Dragon-Blooded can outmaneuver Ahlat on the battlefield without him suddenly getting demoted from war god. A god of culinary arts can get his ass handed to him by a Solar chef in a cooking competition. The Exigent of Do can lose a kung fu fight to a Sidereal. A Lunar can also be the most fearsome predator to walk Creation while still having to contend with the Wyld Hunt.


squidheadjax:
Taking on non-animal forms was mocked outright, combat-adaptive and shapeshifting other than popping into a specific form…

John:
Excuse me? I understand you are disappointed at what you perceive to be a slight against yourself through our goal of upholding the core design elements of the Lunar Exalted, but we have never mocked the idea of Lunars turning into things other than animals. When we talk about them shifting into bestial battle forms and chimeric fusions of different beasts and you call that “zoo Exalted” you are the one who is mocking them turning into things “other than animals.” Every post from you in some way mocks Lunar players and what we plan to do for them. What you don’t seem to understand is that we have constituents other than yourself, and they form a majority of the fanbase, and we are not going to screw all of our customers just to make a few new customers, customers who hate the Lunars at their core and want them to be something else. So if you feel that your cries are falling on deaf ears, it’s because we’re not going to ruin the splat on your behalf by negating what they are through some horribly poor decision just to make you happy.

squidheadjax:
And the strength of whatever, speed of whatever, charms they talk about sound like just plain old dice adders. Yaaaaaay.

John:
Just as an FYI, every Charm that can be mapped to a roll is a dice adder.

squidheadjax:
And every time someone suggests a proper mythical monster (save the nemean lion for some reason) they shoot that one down too.

2e Lunars were incoherent, but at least they had an incoherent set of cool stuff. Every suggestion that fits my idea of Lunar ‘cool stuff’ that’s been brought forward to the devs has been Jossed, so like Scutarii, I’m not seeing anything other than “blandly animalistic” in the supposed “primal” theme.

John:
Here’s where the confusion lies: I have compared the Lunars to mythical monsters such as hydra and the Nemean Lion, possibly on more than one occasion.

Some people translate this as “the Lunars are based off of Greek monsters.” To clarify this confusion I said “No, they’re not.”

Why did I say two seemingly contradictory things?

Because some people might take “based off of” to mean that Lunars literally are built around emulation of Greek monsters. That, like the hydra they grow multiple heads that grow other multiple heads, or have extremely poisonous saliva, because they are built to emulate hydra. While a Lunar might regenerate extra heads or have poisonous saliva, the distinction in Exalted’s case is very important.

Are they becoming the monsters of Greek myth as an end-goal? Are the themes of their Charms an ekphrasis of Greek monsters? IE, more than just regrowing heads, is the Lunar when rebuffed socially, going to generate three new approaches, as one with the spirit of the hydra might?

The answer is No, because the Lunars are not being based on Greek monsters. They are not an ekphrasis of hydra. However, you can compare one to hydra, because it might become a multi-headed giant snake that has venom that can dissolve spirits permanently and because it can hide its real head behind its false ones, leading enemies to make useless attacks against parts of its body it can cast away. They might split their social approach into three new tactics after the first is rebuffed because Lunar Essence sips from our understanding of the god-monster, and that includes the hydra. They could be compared to the Nemean Lion because they can take the form of a gigantic lion and have a hide that is damn-near unbreakable.

The answer is No because Lunars are not being designed with Greek monsters directly in the heart of the design. They won’t have Medusa’s baleful gaze or a tree devoted to being half-horse, or shrieking like a harpy, etc., but where the idea of god-monster intersects with Greek myth, the comparison is there. Plus, who are we kidding? A really pissed Full Moon could take on the hydra, Scylla, Charybdis, and the Nemean Lion all at once. So a Lunar enters the lexicon of myth on a level that is singular, and makes its entrypoint as something connected to but above the myths of old, not climbing to meet them.

Ark:
hatewheel, I really like your posts, but I have to admit, I don’t understand some things. For example when you make the comparison between multiheaded hydra and a Lunar trying to do social stuff in some other way than before after he got rebuffed the first time. But what about that approach (“I failed with strategy A, now let’s try strategy B”) is explicitely Lunar … or explicitely hydra? Isn’t that how everyone acts? Sorry, perhaps I’m too dense to see it, but this looks like again having animal- or monster-named charms because well, Lunars.

John:
The hydra’s most well-known characteristic is that if you cut off one head, three more grow in its place. Things that are hydra-like would then mimic this nature. An Exalt “of the hydra” would show this particular resiliency in many ways, as an ekphrasis of the hydra.

Scutarii:
I’m having trouble parsing this.

So a Lunar doesn’t

[“is the Lunar when rebuffed socially, going to generate three new approaches, as one with the spirit of the hydra might?”]

Can a Lunar

[“because it might become a multi-headed giant snake that has venom that can dissolve spirits permanently and because it can hide its real head behind its false ones, leading enemies to make useless attacks against parts of its body it can cast away”]

Or not?

The: [statement], ‘The answer is No’ of that post is confusing me as to what is a positive statement of ‘Lunars can do X’ and which is a negative ‘Lunars can’t do X’.

John:
The Chosen of Hydra would have no Charms that are not somehow impelling the Exalt toward a state of perfect hydra-like being. Ergo, the Lunars are not based on Greek monsters. There’s some intersection, though.

Holden:
Solars are able to conjure a sword out of their anima. Is conjuring things out of their anima a major Solar theme? Is their Charmset largely structured around pulling things out of thin air? If not, why can they conjure a sword out of their anima?

Ark:
Doesn’t compute.
Thanks for taking the time to answer me, hatewheel, but I feel too stupid to understand what you want to tell me.

Tokezo Tenken:
I’m not hatewheel, but my interpretation is that a Lunar that is aligned with the hydra would attack problems (often metaphorically) in the manner a hydra would. So if a Lunar emulating the hydra faces an obstacle and a solution is closed off, they would attack the problem with three more solutions.

John:
Yep.

Scutarii:
Ooookay.

I think you’re giving me too much intellectual credit here – I still can’t parse which parts of hatewheel’s post are examples of things a Lunar can do and which are examples of what a Lunar can’t do. Or if he’s not trying to give example at all.

I am perfectly capable of understanding that one example does not mean that’s the ONLY thing they can do, also that one example is not a definitive statement of of the only KINDS of things they can do. I get that they aren’t monsters form Greek myth and they aren’t thematically trying to be them, they just happen to have some overlap in what they can do. I understand that because a Solar can make a sword out of their anima doesn’t mean that they are completely and totally defined by laser swords.

But the combination of different posters across multiple different forums arguing over what IS and what is NOT a Lunar thing, examples like Alex Mercer being argued as an example of a Lunar and then others arguing that it isn’t, examples of things like a Lunar growing multiple heads being a positive (I think?) while Lunars with a gaze that turns someone to stone as a negative leaves me pulled in all sorts of directions. Reading the old 2e stuff seems a waste of time as everyone and their dog agrees that they were so broad and eclectic in there as to be too nebulous and 3e is moving away from that, 1e is apparently a terrible book.

About the only positive thing I know about Lunars is that they can transform into an animal.

Can they change parts of their body into animal parts?

Change your left arm into a squid tentacle and whip it out to grab a foe, pull them in and crush them with a giant crab’s claw of a right hand? Change their legs into gazelle legs to jump? Grow a spinneret to create a rope to climb with?

Or do they change into a spider itself and just climb the wall?

Or do they remain in a human form but can climb like a spider without actually growing spider parts to do it?

All of the above?

None of the above?

Design not far enough along to make a statement about that either way?

John:
I appreciate your question, which is why I’m doing my best to answer.

I don’t want to discuss how their powers work yet, though. We have much work to do before we can make a lot of definitive statements.

Scutarii:
I appreciate the attempt and I appreciate you’re not ready to talk definitively.

I’ll fall back to the statement I made in my first post in this thread then. Namely that as of right now I’ve not been sold on why Lunars are interesting or something I should care about but that will likely change once we get closer to release of the Lunars book and the hype machine starts up.

John:
The largest and most powerful empire in the world says you are a monster and has vowed to hunt you to death. Many other nations also agree that yes, you must die. The powers of Heaven move against you, formed into a knife held in the hands of an assassin born from the stars. The wrath of the Five Elemental Dragons is upon you, in the form of Dragon-Blooded champions. Exigents try to be you, burn you, or follow you. Spirits older than time, that hunt the wastes fear and hate you for your power and will try to kill you if you aren’t paying attention. Elementals would like a taste of your power. Raksha would like a taste of your soul. Demons want to corrupt you and make you theirs. Horrors from the Wyld see you as food. Beasts and animals hunt you, flee you, and join you as kin. When the world of man is too hot or too dangerous, you can shed your skin and retreat into the wild untamed embrace of Gaia—nature. If the Sidereal assassin and Exigent shikari still follow you, you can go further into the Wyld, where they cannot easily follow you. The world is a womb of horrors and mysteries, of old magic winding down and going bad, of tomb doors sealed for eternity impossibly sliding open. And you, Chosen of the Moon, are at the center of it all. The whole world is against you but they cannot touch you unless you let them.


Ark:
Well, that might be another basic problem. The werewolf, weretyrantlizard and werewtfwhatisthisthing are Lunars which just hunted animals and now can become monsters – in the stereotypical monsters as killing machines way. The trickster Lunar who is not living in the “wilderness” but in “civilized society” has most likely a greater need for human shapes – and so he becomes a (mass?)murderer, which doesn’t fit well with the tricksters as not violent brutes stereotype.

Or in other words: the Full Moon guy can be just a big-game hunter which doesn’t stop him from playing weregodzilla, but the Changing Moon guy who just wants to play Anansi has to act like Jack the Ripper.

Holden:
Go look up the Changing Moon anima power. I’ll wait.

Sunder the Gold:
Is that one sticking around? I’d thought you guys would have various reasons to give them a different one, this time around.

John:
Lunars need spiced up animas. Changing Moon might get that, but maybe not just that.

Holden:
Nothing’s set in stone until the book comes out, but of all the old Lunar anima powers, it’s the one I think is probably the best.

SmilingBeast:
It’s certainly got potential, conceptually, though mechanically it was extremely disappointing. Wasn’t there a relatively cheap artifact in the core book that was superior in every way?

Though I’ll admit, that particular problem might be better expressed as “there’s a cheap artifact that’s better than the signature advantage of the Changing Moon Lunars” instead of “Changing Moon Lunars have a caste ability so sad that a cheap artifact is better.”

Still, I’m hoping that the Changing Moon anima ability becomes a bit meatier.

Holden:
It was definitely too expensive, but so were almost all the 1e animas.

John:
My inclination is that everything about Lunars becomes meatier, and more versatile. Lowered XP costs, easier to branch out, etc.


squidheadjax:
Not really. Exigents seem to each be utterly one-note by design – is only in the possibility to be ‘exigent of ‘ that breadth manifests.

John:
That’s adamantly wrong. I have forwarded to my writers, an approach I call “ecstatic design” and used several Exigents to demonstrate the approach of “ecstatic design” to them.

I call it ecstatic design for two reasons. First, it is a design which unfolds into another design, naturally transitioning from one premise to another with no logical breach. Second, because discovering this design in-play creates a sense of euphoria for the player. It is both emergent and optimistic. It uses the spectral logic of Essence and the mythos of Exalted to make sense.

Therefore the Thousand Venoms Mistress, your so-called “one note” Chosen of a “Poison Goddess” might turn her own blood into a strain of poison so painful it sends her into a state of hyper-real cognizance and changes how her powers work. This is aside from her basic, standard core powers of injecting people with venoms, delivering poison kisses, spreading venomous rumors, and so on. The design is ecstatic, because you hit a point where one Exigent becomes more than just what she was. And what she was was fun all on its own! But then all of a sudden, bam, through a logical transition something new unfolds inside her Charm set.

So no, they’re not all one note, requiring you to make the Chosen of Everything.


squidheadjax:
Yes, either they’re working from a coherent vision of them right now, or they aren’t. And if they’re really a big setting element now, and their nature isn’t a settled question. ..

John:
I can see how you’d think I have no coherent vision, because I spend my time responding to people who want eighty-seven completely different, incoherent things attached to Lunars, and I do this without laying out exactly what we plan to do for them.

That said, we’ve been short on specifics but very clear about where Lunars stand in EX3. They are what most of the world thinks of as Anathema. They are the legends of the wild untamed world. Masters of the hinterlands, gods of the wilderness; a fusion of man, god, and beast. They cut their teeth on the horrors of the Wyld and even the mighty enemies of the enemies of the gods go before the Lunars in trepidation; hate and fear them for their power. They are locked in a war for Creation with their former allies, who bend the very stars with their will and twist fate to control destiny, and the mighty, nigh unstoppable host of 10,000 Dragons.

You don’t like it, you reject it, OK. But we’ve been clear about it. Just because we haven’t written the Charms yet and we’re still very interested in what everyone (even you) wants to see in Lunar magic, doesn’t mean we’re somehow remiss or undecided about what Lunars must be / will be. There’s many different ways to do something and we are putting a lot of effort and time into testing, rebuffing, and changing our ideas to make the best outcome, and we will continue to do that until the Lunar hardback goes up for sale on drivehtrurpg.


Ark:
But when you’re here, allow me a question: some of the stuff we got from you guys about Lunars mention that illusion as basic concept of Lunars is gone.

John:
First of all, Lunars as the Illusion Exalt has been unsupported in their Charm sets for two editions. So if we said “no illusions whatever” it wouldn’t be a concept that we took away because it was never there.

Second, I did not say there would be no illusion magic whatsoever in Lunar magic. I don’t support the idea that they are Illusion Exalt. The actual post I was responding to was a demand for illusion magic to be a major part of the Lunar design, and it isn’t.

Ark:
At least I read that into some comment hatewheel made here: http://avatarcomic.net/ExaltedWiki/m…p?title=Exalts. If illusions are so un-Lunary, will the Changing Moon anima stay the same at all?

John:
Misrepresenting someone’s statements shows bad faith. But in case you really didn’t understand: Lunars having a heavy core of illusion magic would take away from the fact that they are shapeshifters. Their body magic is very physical and not a mere trick of the light. If they were sprouting illusions, soon the demand would come to give them the power to make those illusions real, effectively giving them freebase sorcery. This is not something that we’re ever going to do for Lunars. We could dial it down from that and let them do a lot of light-tricks, but people wouldn’t like that to be a heavy part of their core design because it wouldn’t be very powerful and because it doesn’t match what they’re really good at. Your takeaway should not be “no illusions ever” but rather Solars have illusions but I wouldn’t call out illusions as a big part of their Charm set. The same is likely for Lunars.


LordofArcana:
I was thinking about the Lunar castes, and it seems like while Full-Moons are great, that the No-Moons and Changing-Moons are reversed.

Shamans, as I understand them, rely almost entirely upon having a personal relationship with the spirits/monsters/things that they interact with. They need to be able to make just about anyone feel comfortable with them, because they will frequently deal with powerful things that can have rather short tempers or odd perspectives. That suggests really impressive interpersonal skills and thus Changing-Moons.

Tricksters, on the other hand, are generally widely disliked. They generally influence people and situations by finding an opportunity to be a manipulative bastard and taking full advantage of it. They are almost always clever and perceptive, and often quite intelligent. To me that suggests No-Moon.

John:
Very thoughtful observation.


Spectralent:
Originally, they were just werewolves, but Exalted to me. It’s probably not a coincidence I didn’t find them very interesting then. Then GotMH: Luna came out, and we had this awesome protean, mercurial figure with fierce loyalties baked at her core and an ever-changing skin on top of that, and that got me interested in them. I like the idea of Lunars as a group being adaptable and unpredictable; I’m alright with exalts being a bit less versatile than the actual goddess of the moon, but I’d still put the social lunar as the one who shows up looking like someone’s personal image of beauty happening to know just what they’re interested in or the combat Lunar being a regenerating juggernaut who looks like they’re in trouble when the spears show up… Before they start growing a puncture-resistant hide and tank onwards. That’s kind of my jam with them, but I expect it’s probably wrong.

John:
I invented Luna as you know her. Anyone else who loved Luna’s myth in Glories might keep in mind that I wrote and invented Luna’s myth in Glories. I did this out of a keen interest in improving the Lunar IP, even though I was a dark horse freelancer on his first gig with zero writing credits to his name.


Scoop Life:
Hm? …Hm.

So first there’s this post. Your response to the precedence of Lunar shapeshifting is

a) a comparison to a lazy Halloween costume some five year old kid can do–something that connotes childishness
b) a facile statement that looking like something isn’t becoming something. Facile because while that is obviously true, the context of Lunars isn’t people who look like things, it’s people who turn into things.

John:
That’s not mockery. That is setting down the basics of shapeshifting. I am not talking about what Lunars can do there. I am talking about design theory. If I give Lunars the power to look like a ghost, they will want to walk through walls. The point being made is that looking like something is the least factor in being a shapeshifter, and does not entail having the powers of a thing.

Scoop Life:
“playable Shoggoth[s]”

John:
Shoggoth is cool, but Lunars are not Shoggoth. Construing that as mockery is super bad faith.

Holden:
I didn’t make up the Alex Mercer = playable shoggoth thing, that is how I have had multiple people describe him when trying to convince me that’s what Lunars should be.

Scoop Life:
A few posts down. Holden says that 1e Lunars didn’t get to turn into “rocks and houseplants.”

John:
They could in 2e. And it’s a bad idea, because it’s silly. We don’t want the Lunars to be perceived as the silly guys who turn into ferns. That’s not intended to make you feel mocked, Scoop Life.

Scoop Life:
“It’s hard to caricature an argument from a guy that wants to play a vegan Lunar.”

John:
Yes, if you read the conversation, you will see that I am responding to someone who said that they want to learn non-lethal shapeshifting forms because they don’t want to eat animals because they are vegan. And when I said no, this other poster accused me of imagining a caricature of the idea. I consider the idea itself to be a caricature of Lunars, as they are defined by eating heart’s blood, as I explained in a post before that one, comparing it very seriously to the improbability of vegan vampires. I don’t think every idea is a good idea and I say so.

Scoop Life:
I guess pretending to be a cannibal is only for hardcore mature adult roleplayers or something.

John:
So here you are directly mocking our customer base, which is basically what this post comes down to, isn’t it? I’m not going to sit here and let people like you call the fans of Lunars stupid and mock them because you don’t like the way the design is going. I will object, because people who say shit like this are killing the conversation and chasing away good posters and customers.

Scoop Life:
Meanwhile, it’s hard not to read this post as mockery in general, if not specifically of non-animal Lunar transformation. I mean, really? Every Lunar conversation? You may be the current developer, but you don’t know how every conversation had gone. Unless it’s just hyperbole… people usually use hyperbole to mock, though. Jussayin.

John:
Wow. Reaching.

Scoop Life:
And I mean, it may be good for the Lunars to be Zoo Exalted! You’re the one, after all, telling Irked he thinks animals suck (presumably by reading his mind) perhaps out of an attempt to assert that animals don’t suck.

John:
First, that’s Godjaw. Second, he was calling them Zoo Exalted and going about how animals are shit. In the very post I am responding to, he’s telling me that animals need to be pretty awesome. You know, as opposed to shit. The way he implied they must be in his other posts.

Scoop Life:
You’re the one that, when presented with a quotation of your original intent NOT to make Lunars “the Chosen of Zoo Tycoon,”

John:
Yes I did. In 2012 or possibly even 2011, while we’re still mostly wrapped up in how Second Edition did hyper-literal mechanics, I was talking to a group of Lunar fans who hated the idea of Lunars getting literal powers of animals. I made a jokey post including a reference to Jump the Shark Prana. It was meant to be cute. Anyone who took that as a statement of throwing out animal themes, or bashing animal themes, is stretching really hard.

Tokezo Tenken:
I feel the context of the other poster’s full statement says something different than what you’re stating here.

John:
People are repeatedly casting aspersions on Exalted players for wanting to play Lunars, because Lunars are “stupid barbarians” “serial killers” and “Zoo Exalted.”

To me that looks to be exactly what he is doing.

Here’s the post he’s mocking:

Originally Posted by hatewheel:
The argument that having to take heart’s blood makes you uncomfortable and therefore we should change it has absolutely zero traction with me. It’s like, you know, maybe Lunars aren’t your bag. Maybe they aren’t what you need from a character. If it were an rpg about vampires and you wanted to not have to drink blood so that you could play a pacifist I’d react the same way. I’d also point out that a pacifist vampire who still has to drink blood is a fascinating character. Of course, if it’s not fascinating to you, then you shouldn’t be playing it.

John:
Here’s him mocking it.

Originally Posted by Scoop Life:
I guess pretending to be a cannibal is only for hardcore mature adult roleplayers or something.

John:
And yes, that’s a mockery, because it implies that we’re running cannibal RPG and that’s why people play Lunars, it’s wrong to play something like a vampire, being a vampire makes you an adult poser, etc.


The Unshaven:
In terms of design-space for Lunars, fair enough.

However, I was wondering if I could clarify: when I think of example Tricksters in culture, Anansi and Coyote spring immediately to mind, and they didn’t leave a trail of dead people in their wake as part of Being Other People. Even Loki is in the same basket.

The discussion so far suggests that these characters are not in the constellation of inspirations for the Lunar design space, and fair enough.

So, I guess my query is: what mode of Trickster IS in the Lunar design space, if either they can’t pretend to be other people, or do so via ritual murder?

John:
This deserves a response, but I need to think about it. Before I respond to this, I have a query for anybody who feels like participating.

List if you can, every problem you can think of with a shapeshifting power that allows a Lunar to change their features, but only their human features. With this power, the Lunar may change their entire appearance, even their gender, but they may not change themselves to impersonate another character. Describe all the problems with this. I’ll be back in a bit.

Sunder the Gold:
Sounds like Shaping The Ideal Form, a First Edition Charm.

“Problems”, hmm. Problems.

Presumably, this Charm cannot change the Lunar’s Tell (or the pattern of their Tattoos, which will be assumed as included in “the Tell” for the rest of this post). So long as the Lunar’s Tell remains unchanged, anyone who knows the Tell can recognize the Lunar regardless of any number of permanent changes to her true human shape. Though continuously changing her true human face can make it harder for someone to attach a specific identity and history of association with the Lunar, if they failed to notice the Tell in previous encounters or fail to see it in later ones.

Essentially, this Charm is just a really good disguise Charm — like Solar Flawlessly Impenetrable Disguise, only without the mote-commitment or any need for make-up or props.

A clever Lunar can, of course, assume an appearance plausibly close to that of someone another character has heard of but has never personally met. For example, a Dynastic mortal comes to Nexus looking to make a deal with a slave-owner known to have dark skin, red-hair and a thick Nexus accent. The Lunar can become a dark-skinned, red-headed man and speak with a thick Nexus accent, and even though the slave-owners associates would be able to spot the fake instantly, the Dynastic costumer can be fooled into thinking the Lunar is the man he’s looking for.

Especially if the Lunar uses social influence Charms to affect how others see her (the Lunar).

I’m not seeing any “problems”. Rather, I do hope we see a return of Shaping the Ideal Form!

John:
Yes, I do recall that Charm. How about the logical problem that if you can make yourself look like anybody you will always look like somebody? In essence, the clause that you can’t impersonate a character makes the power incoherent? Or do you think that’s easily solved?

Huntress:
Only issue I see is that I’m reminded of how much cheating went on with Loom Snarling Deception “I’m not turning into the guard captain, I’m turning into his imaginary twin brother”

John:
LOL. Well I just think the power negates itself. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Random Nerd:
Yeah, that’s pretty much where I fall. “You can’t look like some specific person” just seems a little weird and arbitrary. I’d buy that if it was a fairy illusion or something, which you rather expect to have odd loopholes. But if you’re physically changing the way your face looks, it’d be weird to be able to look like any hypothetical person, but no actual person.

John:
Wouldn’t you say that makes the power improbable? What if you run into someone you didn’t know about, but you look just like them? Or do you not see this as a problem?

Dagor:
I’d consider “you can shapeshift into anything reasonably human but not duplicate a specific person” kind of silly. What’s stopping me, exactly — assuming the effect isn’t so crude that anyone who sees me can immediately spot it as “doesn’t actually look human after all”, that is? And if I do assume some particular shape and later discover that somebody I run into just so happens to look exactly like that, does that mean I now lose the ability to take that form ever again?

I’d be far more inclined to go with “you can outwardly duplicate the looks of anyone you know well enough, but you may miss details you weren’t aware of or paying attention to and you’re certainly not automatically getting their knowledge and mannerisms as well”. I might be able to copy Brad Pitt’s face from watching a few movies starring him with this, but I wouldn’t also get, say, his fingerprints or know the first thing about what he’s like when the cameras aren’t running…

John:
Yes. My read on it is that this is the main problem with such a clause. It negates the entire power, because if you can look like anybody, you always look like somebody.

Roadie:
Agreed with everything here.

Rather than saying “you can’t turn into someone you know”, why not just require a Larceny roll when trying to imitate a specific person, like any other disguise?

That way the “I ran into this guy who coincidentally looks like my favorite alternate form, so now I can’t turn into that anymore” problem is completely avoided.

John:
I like the way you think, but I think if you have to change the rules so that the power doesn’t have that clause anymore, it demonstrates the flaw of the power. It negates itself.

John:
I think you will find many possible limitations to shapeshifting that don’t make sense. If you are searching for a way to make shapeshifting balanced by preventing it from allowing a Lunar to freely turn into anyone, you won’t find many limitations that do make sense.

Inqy:
Well yeah, the logical power would be something like: “you have the power to mould your form like clay, with a Craft/Larceny skill roll to shape yourself into a form resembling a specific person well enough to fool a knowledgeable observer.” The advantage being flexibility, the disadvantage being time and investment.

John:
Quite. But if you change the power, you aren’t fixing it. You’re throwing it away.

Can it be said that the power negates itself, and therefore should be seen as a bad deal?

Or can there be some value of “good” in it? Anyone care to argue that you are still highly unlikely to ever run into anyone you look exactly like, and therefore it shouldn’t matter? Does anyone feel that the elasticity of what you imagine can support an inconsistency in the logic of the power, which does not fit the wider logic of Creation?

If attitude is that the power should fit the logic of Creation and therefore negates itself and is not good, then you have to look anywhere else for a reasonable substitute.

If you’re only interested in the result but not in how you get there, you are going to have a lot of problems writing Exalted mechanics. This is something we plan to discuss in The Exigents.

The Unshaven:
This confuses me, too.

hatewheel, would you mind unpacking the logic here when you get a chance? It seems to be an intuitive “So this obviously doesn’t make sense!” for you, where I see no issue whatsoever.

I think I must have misunderstood something, because currently my impression is that your logic could equally say “Being a grifter character in Leverage is internally inconsistent because you might make yourself look like someone who actually exists somewhere in the world.”

I still come back to the Trickster question: If the Trickster deities like Coyote and Anansi are off the table for Lunars, then fair enough, that’s the choice that’s been made. I currently don’t have an understanding of what Tricksters would be on the table instead.

John:
You can either look like somebody, or you can look like nobody. The stipulation clearly negates the power. I am not sure what’s confusing about that. It is impossible to categorize the power to look like another human who looks like nobody else, while looking like nobody in particular. You always look like someone in particular. It is not possible, otherwise, to look like anything. A person who looks like no other human would not look like a human, they would look like something imperceptible, something from a dimension above or beneath our own.

Let me humor the power for a moment and walk you through some scenarios, however:

1) You turn into another unspecified person. When it is time to drop the Charm, you cannot return to your normal shape. Remember, the Charm does not allow you to look like a specific character. I am not being coy or pedantic here; the power to shapeshift into something should logically include the power to shapeshift back into one’s self. This would obviously require a clause that you be able to look like yourself. But wait—what if you are a dead ringer for a parent, grandparent, and so on? You would not then be able to shapeshift back into your own face. Of course, we’d waive that aside—everyone who wants the power to work is willing to overlook the implausibility. But wait, what about one of my stolen shapes? Does this mean I cannot use this power to return to a shape I’ve stolen? Well, obviously there would be a clause somewhere stating that a face I have permanently stolen now counts as my face for the purposes of all such Charms. But then, what if the face I have stolen is a dead ringer for one of that person’s family members? Then I would not be able to use this Charm to return to that shape. In effect, every time I used this Charm, it would necessitate losing the shape I am changing from forever, because of the content line stipulation. Never mind that this power just doesn’t work in the first place, because the stipulation makes it negate itself.

2) I’m standing next to Bob and I want to change shapes to impersonate Bob, but the power won’t let me. So I grow moonsilver talons and rip Bob’s face off. Bob no longer looks like Bob. Now can I turn into Bob? Or does the Charm’s stipulation mean that “no, you smartass, you can’t get around eating heart’s blood by literally stealing someone’s face”? I can guarantee you that yes, the stipulation means exactly that. Just because Bob no longer looks like Bob, doesn’t mean you can now look like Bob-that-was using this Charm. So, if you throw Bob in a volcano, and he burns up and his physical form and identity burn up, does that now mean you can look like Bob? Well, no, because the stipulation is that you may not look like another character, and Bob with or without a face, incinerated or unincinerated, is a character whom you cannot take the shape of. So you can’t use this Charm to look like someone who has ever existed. So you can clearly see, this Charm negates itself because you cannot use it to look like any other character, and every other shape of a human which might have ever existed falls outside the wheelhouse of this Charm. The stipulation causes the Charm to negate itself.

3) In all the world, there are people who look exactly like you, even if you aren’t related. Body doubles are an actual thing, not just something from science fiction. You can argue that the much lower population of Creation means there is less chance of you looking exactly like someone else, but there is no guarantee of it. You might argue that humans in Creation don’t have genetic laws like we do, or common ancestors, having been created by the gods, or that the Loom of Fate makes sure everyone looks visibly different, but then you are having to introduce metaphysical clauses to compensate for a Charm which, by 1&2, negates itself and can’t even work in the first place.

You cannot ever look like nobody. You can only ever look like somebody. There’s no middle.

This is not an injunction against writing or using such a Charm, but it is certainly a mechanic you need to understand if you plan to write Lunar Charms.

Note: It is absolutely within the wheelhouse of a Lunar in EX3 to take the form of that unbeheld other—the imperceptible being. A Solar would need some decent Awareness, Occult, or Investigation Charms to reconcile such a being to her own eyes.

Alderman:
Or, you can’t shapeshift with enough precision to impersonate a specific person and saying “you can’t look like a specific person” is a rules shorthand. You are really making this way more complicated than anyone else here, i think.

John:
I am demonstrating how shapeshifting limitations often do not make sense. If you can’t look like another character, then the Charm doesn’t work, because it makes you look like another character. It doesn’t matter if there’s a specific or unspecific character. It’s just a logical impossibility. As you can see in my post above, this wouldn’t stop me from writing a Charm. It works because people want it to work—which is another important element of design. Magic is implausible from the outset, but people expect it to follow rules that make sense to them, and will accept rules that allow them to have fun and keep a power simple and ideal. These are very basic considerations to make when writing Charms.

Also, that rules shorthand can also fall apart pretty fast as soon as you introduce a character with better shapeshifting than your own, or weird shape-assumption powers.

Let’s say some weird new kind of Fair Folk wants to screw with you, so he drifts in out of the Wyld and assumes the exact shape of the “unspecified character” whose shape you are now inhabiting. Now that form is the official form of his character. What happens? Does the power stop working? Does it force you to change shapes? I hope you haven’t put too much time and effort into establishing your identity!

selfcritical:
As above, I get the metaphysical problem of identity there, but I do think that “you can’t reproduce intentionally a specific person by imagining that person” is a not crazy nonsensical limitation, even if it allows you to accidentally become the duplicate of someone you didn’t intend. In fact, I think that’s kind of a feature, because it lets you hang mistaken identity comedy of errors on top of it, and it means the person who invests in “become a perfect mirror of x” charms also gets to avoid said comedy of errors.

John:
That’s an interesting point. Because in the unlikely case that you look exactly like someone else, then it demonstrates the uselessness of the stipulation, unless you think the Charm would force you out of shape (which it probably would not–it would be written specifically to not do that).

Holden:
If you think about the effect from the perspective of internal consistency of how stuff works within the setting, there are issues.

It’s fairly easy to work around them to produce an effect that will produce smooth play at tables (even the busted-ass 1e Lunar set managed that) but if you’re not aware of the issues you’re papering over, you’re likely to run into nastier snarls elsewhere, yes? Writing something as big as a full Charm set requires very deep thinking about how things hook together, even if nobody who reads or plays the set later thinks as hard about it as you did.

Alderman:
Sorry about that, it’s not intentional. I guess my problem is that it sounds to me like you’re explaining step 2 of a thought process where I don’t see step 1 – no matter how well 2 is explained, I still don’t see why it’s necessary, y’know?

It’s just that to me it seems like you avoid most of that by saying the limitation is that you can’t intentionally turn into someone else. Yeah sure, maybe you’ll look like some random person two kingdoms over, but who cares? It’s not like you can use that, you didn’t get to pick which random person it is!

Holden:
Perhaps you should read over the (several times reiterated and re-explained) answers you’ve already gotten, try to think of a new angle to approach from, and then ask about that, or explain the conclusions you reached so that conversation can move forward in the thread due to getting some new insight and ideas? Right now you’re coming off as just repeating the same question until you get an answer that agrees with you.

The point of the exercise is not to say “you’re dumb and wrong if you think a power to change your eye color is fun,” it’s a prompt to get those interested in design (which is everyone in this thread, at least ostensibly?) to consider potential problems with ways of structuring an imaginary shapeshifter’s powers. But the current page of this thread has 4 posts of you repeating a question more and more stridently. That’s not productive to respond to, nor a good use of anyone’s time.

John:
Well, mostly I think we are having different conversations. I am talking about design philosophy and trying to point things out to people who are interested in the angles and perspectives. I’m not roping off powers that Lunars can’t have or shouldn’t.

You are 100% correct (in your above post) that the rules are not a physics engine, but I still have to consider whether they push the boundaries of people’s expectations, or create snares in the design that will trip up a writer or the players, or create unexpected results, or say things about the splat that are unintentional.

I see shapeshifting as a tippy-top shelf power because it doesn’t outwardly seem all that powerful but it really is. Likewise, I see it as an extremely difficult thing to mechanize, because it looks simple but can quickly become extremely complicated and overwrought. One of my big problems with stipulations that are obviously in place to stop something unfair from happening is that they often are not consistent with what a splat should be capable of. I have to be able to set aside the hard mechanics and ask “why?” and “what does this feel like?” which is an equally important part of mechanics writing, because sometimes the answer is “they need this power to make it cost them more to get the Charm that has no limitation” and sometimes they answer is “this limitation says bad things about the entire splat” and sometimes it’s “this limitation is AOK because it doesn’t threaten splat perception.” In order to make that call I have to understand the mechanic completely (or as close as philosophy will allow me).

AliasiSudonomo:
I’d see that less as a problem than an opportunity; you look exactly like SOMEONE out of Creation’s teeming millions. Now, is it anyone important and can you capitalize on that?

And if that’s not something a GM wants to deal with that day? Sure, you look exactly like a rice farmer on the other side of the Direction. It won’t be important.

John:
Yes, it is highly unlikely that the discrepancy will ever matter at someone’s table. But it could matter to the entire rest of the design.

Rachel Cartacos:
Also not seeing the ‘the charm cancels itself’ implication that’s being said here.

To me, it looks really simple. The Charm won’t let you look at, say, Lord Applebloom the local fish merchant, and deliberately shift yourself to look like him. And that’s it. That’s the only implication of the Charm that I can see.

John:
Lord Applebloom doesn’t look like Lord Applebloom, though. So why can’t you look like him? I mean, he looks like his father. His father, likewise, looks like his father. Why should a Lunar’s power to change shapes ever be contingent on deliberately not looking like someone? You know, outside of heart’s blood being a thing.

Just because we understand it and want it to work doesn’t mean it’s actually plausible, or even consistent.

nexus:
Lord Applebloom probably doesn’t look exactly like his father though. They’ll likely have a family resemblance, perhaps a strong one but they’re not identical copies of each other. The power doesn’t say the character can’t so much as bear a resemblance to any other human being in Creation just that can’t deliberately become identical to someone.

John:
Certainly possibly true. But some people do look exactly like their forebears and could pass for them. There are also people with identical twin siblings.

nexus:
I don’t see how that is relevant to the discussion.

John:
I’ve thought about it, because I am not sure why I instinctively feel that is a point. I guess what it comes down to is that a power with such a stipulation would let you accidentally look exactly like someone else, or it would allow you to only look “almost” like someone else, but not exactly. Which makes me wonder why. I mean, you and I both know there are reasons that exist outside the power, and they are reasonable…reasons (lol.) but! I have to consider how it feels too, and if it makes a weird statement. I think everyone here is correct in saying that there is no problem with the power. Which is in itself interesting, because let’s say you all agreed that the power was inconsistent as I say it is–I still think you’d all be fine with it anyway.

John:
Let’s see, the Charm concept as I originally plated it:

“a shapeshifting power that allows a Lunar to change their features, but only their human features. With this power, the Lunar may change their entire appearance, even their gender, but they may not change themselves to impersonate another character.”

The main problem here is that a power that changes how you look definitionally allows you to impersonate another character.

Alderman suggests the following change:

“a shapeshifting power that allows a Lunar to change their features, but only their human features. With this power, the Lunar may change their entire appearance, even their gender, but they may not change themselves to impersonate another specific character.”

There’s still problems with that that I can point to, but it mostly squares it with everyone.

So then the question becomes, why the stipulation? Anyone care to make some suggestions?

John:
“You can shapeshift to look like another human as long as you look like no other human” is incoherent. :-p

nexus:
You could use the power to assume features similar to someone in that family line, but not a specific Applebloom. If you could pull off posing as one of the family would be an exercise of the Lunars Abilities (and role playing). Someone might say “She looks like might be from the Applebloom clan.” but they won’t say “Hey, its Gracie Applebloom!” at least not from the use of this ability alone.

This really feels like searching for an issue where there really isn’t one.

John:
If you go back a few pages, I was asking whether people felt like it was a problematic Charm or a perfectly fine one. My purpose in asking was to execute a fact-finding mission, to see people’s different ways of approaching an effect. When people explained what could possibly be wrong with it, I explained it. My intention is not to say that anyone is wrong, because ultimately there’s no objectively right way to write a shapeshifting Charm. Indeed, if you disagree that you in order to look like anybody you must look like somebody, you won’t think this is a problem. But that’s why I started this conversation by asking people if they thought it was a problem. You seem to have misconstrued this as an argument. It’s not. I’m explaining another point of view which some of you seem not to share. 🙂

Paradim:
I get the concept of what the power is meant to do. This says nothing whatsoever on how effect the given ‘mechanic’ is in actually embodying the proposed concept that would or would not raise potential issues in gameplay and only be analyzing it through various interpretations can you determine whether something about the language used raises issues of indefiniteness.

John:
Yes. Thousands of people will beat on a Charm and some will take different meanings from it. I’m really not trying to be obtuse here, just trying to show how shapeshifting magic might be contentious.

If the stipulation exists it negates the power, and makes me wonder how to roleplay a Lunar. I always approach the use of a Charm from a point of feeling. And when I feel my way into the use of this Charm, I don’t like the psychological “hitch” it entails. That hitch comes when I am forced to consider transforming myself into a person who looks like nobody else, when my idea of “somebody else” is formed entirely by other people I’ve seen. This is absolutely not a game-breaking, splat ruining stipulation, it’s just one that comes to mind. 🙂

nexus:
I don’t think it is based on deliberately not looking like anyone. It just means the Lunars doesn’t have the fine control and artistry required to sculpt themselves relatively instantly into a flawless double of another person. But they can alter the features as to appear like a different person. If those changes make them resemble someone else and what effects that might have are determined by situation, the ST and the player’s creativity.

John:
I think you are correct. Any thoughts on why you’d want to write a “first step” power like this?

nexus:
It seems like a reasonable ability for Lunars to have, at least as I see them.

John:
Sure, but why not just start them off with the more effective upgrade?

nexus:
What’s the more effective upgrade?

John:
One hasn’t been mentioned, I just took this—

nexus:
I don’t think it is based on deliberately not looking like anyone. It just means the Lunars doesn’t have the fine control and artistry required to sculpt themselves relatively instantly into a flawless double of another person.

John:
—to mean the Lunar would at some point gain that power. Not your intent?

Paradim:
Could a Lunar use this power to look “close enough” to a specific person to enable them to do a Larceny roll to do a mundane disguise roll at a lower difficulty than they would with their natural appearance?

John:
Probably. It could also be used to evade people searching for you.

Rand Brittain:
Wouldn’t it be easier to say that the power works based on your general desire, rather than allowing you to sculpt your features in an intentional and craftsmanlike fashion? If the power works based on “I want to turn into a big blond guy with cauliflower ears” rather than letting you work your features like clay, then you’ll have generalized shapeshifting without the ability to specify a known individual.

John:
That is probably the best way to put it, because it feels right.

Paradim:
Or that you have a design goal of having progression shown in the mechanics of your game (I’m thinking of the Upgrade Charms from Infernal Exalted here).

John:
I think that’s very astute.

AliasiSudonomo:
Honestly, I don’t think so [re: “Yes, it is highly unlikely that the discrepancy will ever matter at someone’s table. But it could matter to the entire rest of the design”]. Quite aside from this being the very first time I’ve ever seen anyone bring up a major problem with an ‘alter self’ type power, it’s a difference that makes no difference in relevance to the overall design, I think. The real core of that particular idea is “the Lunar doesn’t get to fine tune it”, which means:

* The character cannot choose a specific appearance beyond ethnic generalities,
* The character will probably look more like any given person they’d like to disguise as, but ultimately it’s just more effective hair and skin dye; worth a bonus to a disguise roll, certainly, but not foolproof.
* There is a very slight chance you look exactly like someone who would be relevant to your situation, through sheer chance. Rather than run away from this, embrace it, because it’s the kind of attention to detail that the best Exalted supplements have. (How many fantasy settings go into the details of the monetary system, down to a pseudo-prime interest rate?) Perhaps a botch on a roll while shapeshifted means your random appearance happens to mimic that of a wanted criminal or someone else who significantly complicates your situation, whereas a high number of threshold successes means you’ve lucked into looking exactly like the prince you were wanting to assassinate. Or just admit the chances of it mattering are astronomical and make that whole second bit optional.

I don’t see it nearly as self-negating as you seem to think it is, honestly, either in actual use or in thematics. If the thematic of this particular charm is, “As a first step, Lunars can affect gross changes in their body, but lack the skill for fine detail at this point”, then it’s not self-negating at all – the important bit is the Lunar cannot control when they happen to look exactly like someone. It’s roughly as important a detail as the possibility that a Sidereal using Embracing Life Method may find objects of great value or importance, even though most of the time they won’t. The main role of the limitation would be to offer a broad sort of shapeshifting if becoming someone’s exact double intentionally is supposed to be a bit harder or more involved.

John:
I don’t think it’s self-negating. It is self-negating. Magic doesn’t have to make sense, but officiating over the logic of powers is sort of my job. Of all the responses I’ve seen so far, people have been squaring the stipulation in the mechanic with the rest of the mechanics, but only Rand has really sought to square it with the logic of other powers in the setting. The stipulation can easily be squared with people, but nobody is really asking why it should be there in the first place, outside of the mechanical limitations. And yes, it does create implications on the rest of the design. Because it points to some other factor outside of this Charm, limiting it (heart’s blood).

It’s not important that a player see a problem with the Charm. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. But Lunars have had a contentious existence. I think it’s safe to say that some people have had very strong ideas about shapeshifting that did not fit other people’s very strong ideas, and this caused friction.

Tokezo Tenken:
You are literally never going to come to a point where you don’t have friction based on people’s ideas. There is no design nor wording that will solve that.

John:
It’s worth noting that, while true, if you set down a guideline in the text, players take it as an objective truth. This guideline was missing for six years, and everyone’s interpretation of shapeshifting became valid. There are thousands of ways to shapeshift, and Lunars cannot and should not encompass all of them.

Rand Brittain:
I think what hatewheel is trying to say is that as developer, it’s his responsibility to come up with a logic for each Charm that makes sense not just for that Charm, but that serves as a segment of the whole set of Charms. The Charmset is defined by the things it can do, and also by the things it can’t do (see Sidereals for an example of a Charmset heavily designed around what it can’t do), and there needs to be a visible internal logic for why it can and can’t do certain things if you want people to be able to read the Lunars book and make custom Charms without actually taking Lunars 201 at the feet of the writing team.

If you consider it as a work of deliberate craftsmanship, the proposed disguise Charm is troublesome because the Lunar can deliberately shape her own features, but only depending on whether the result falls into an arbitrary category (does this face already exist). That’s an odd limitation if the Lunar is consciously reshaping her own features, especially when you take into account that the category in question is also a fuzzy one, since you can eat someone’s face and remove them from the list of existing faces.

This kind of hinky logic, while it doesn’t really hurt the Charm much in isolation (because you can just invoke Chicanery-No), is bad as part of a Charmset because it doesn’t set a good precedent for how Lunar magic works and what further Charms should be able to do.

John:
Yes, 100%. Rand gets it.

Lea:
Ha! You just proposed a mechanism for exactly how the sacred hunt lets you take a particular face!

Tokezo Tenken:
If it’s a matter of deforming an entire set of charms for a type of Exalt, then we would have to see the charms in totality before we could even start to comment. Note: I’m not asking to see the charm set in totality.

John:
I’m not discussing a Charm being written. There’s no set to see. The object of this exercise was to see whether people thought this basic limitation was problematic or okay and why. It requires someone advocating for it being problematic. I am not asking for anyone’s help to write, visualize, or understand a mechanic. I am trying to show how difficult it can be to put limitations on a shapeshifting power.

If you ask me, I have an ambivalent feeling toward this Charm’s stipulation. I like it because the players readily accept and understand it. I also like it because it suggests a step upward in a Lunar’s progression toward becoming a shapeshifter. I distrust it because the progression seems artificial; the stipulation makes perfect sense within the mechanics of the game, yet it makes arguably no sense within the broader logic of shapeshifting. Lunar shapeshifting in itself is full of broad contradictions as well.

Tokezo Tenken:
That makes sense. Also I can see how difficult putting limiters on an amorphous type of power such as shapeshifting can be. I do think, though, that Exalted requires player buy-in when it comes to charms and various other powers. The player-base is used to structure even if it’s been… unevenly applied in the past. As long as you’re consistent, I think you’ll be okay in the end.

John:
Yes, precisely. Player buy-in is why we believe in some forms of magic but not others. I think that player buy-in is based heavily on formalized and consistent logic set out in the text of the book.

Tokezo Tenken:
Apologies, by “argument” I mean it in the sense of “stated position” is all, not as in “dispute.” Would it be out of bounds to ask if the comparison could be restated with the requested parameters of feedback? I think I at least may have gotten turned around.

John:
No worries! I will try to make a redraft of the original concept.

“a shapeshifting power that allows a Lunar to change their human features to fit a general but not a specific desire. Therefore, they could change themselves to look like a pristine scarlet-haired woman with a certain build and height, but they could not become the Scarlet Empress. With this power, the Lunar may change their entire appearance, even their gender, but they may not change themselves to impersonate another specific character.”

Did I miss anything?

Wolfwood2:
You missed the very interesting question raised earlier in the thread of whether the Lunar could abandon the form and then later return to that specific form again. By the new logic of the power, I would say not, since a general desire is not going to yield the same results the next time you try it. However, that definitely reduces the general utility of the power still further. Now it’s basically a thing for spur of the moment disguises, not new identities.

John:
Yes, that is definitely how the Charm reads.

An issue with the Charm’s logic crops up almost as soon as you think about it. But is it a problem?

John:
Let’s evaluate it based on a clause that lets you return to a previous unspecified form you have taken.

This clause would allow you to generate more true forms without actively engaging in the Sacred Hunt. This clause shows that the Charm negates itself.

John:
First problem with this Charm:

Lets say you turn into a very attractive unspecified character using this Charm. As you are walking through the streets of Nexus, a Solar looks down from their balcony and spots you. The Solar is so taken with your beauty that they memorize it perfectly, using an eidetic form-capturing power a Solar can certainly have.

The Solar then goes down to their sorcerous laboratory and builds an absolutely perfect, flawless copy of your unspecified character and gives it life through a sorcerous working.

This character has its own persona, identity, and emotions. It is fully human and though it is discovering its personhood for the first time, it is obviously now a specific character.

While still in the form of the unspecified character, you meet your perfect double on the street. What happens?

The Charm negates itself by either forcing you out of your current form or by keeping you in the same form and ignoring the rules of the Charm. More likely the latter, because Storytellers tend to be cool like that, and it might be genuinely fascinating to think about why the Charm negates itself. (Which I think some people upthread said is why they actually like it.)

Tokezo Tenken:
As a thought exercise, I can see where this might be problematic at least in potential, but whether the ST is cool with letting the Lunar player keep the charm, it was the ST that set the situation up in the first place. You can’t legislate ST superdickery.

John:
I don’t think it’s dickery tbh. I just think people play the games and make different interpretations.

I also have to evaluate mechanics based on Charms that haven’t been written yet, because oh my gob I have so many Charms to write in the future.

Sunder the Gold:
“This Charm allows the Lunar to change their human features. She may change her age, height, proportions, gender, and coloration to highly specific degrees. In regards to her facial structure, she is limited to broad strokes, adopting the nuances of a specific ethnicity she has seen or imagined. In essence, a Delzhani Lunar can make herself appear as if born a Dynast, but this does not mean she can make her face mimic that of a specific Dynast, just as she could not make her face mimic that of a fellow Delzhani. At most (by manipulating the factors she can control specifically) she might appear related to the Dynasts of a specific house.”

I’m out of time to refine this paragraph further this morning.

John:
You have a natural Charm-writing voice.

Mejiro_Night:
That does seem a rather specific edge-case – if the charm just lets you be ‘generic person of demographic origin ‘ and is non-repeatable in specifics, then it mostly resolves itself (although I suppose a solar using a perfect disguise charm or a Sidereal with a ‘steal someone’s appearance’ would also allow similar effects). You can keep the appearance until it expires, then you can use the charm again and you might look similar-ish, but as the charm states, you can’t imitate a specific person. This is vaguely circular as you can’t imitate yourself imitating a generic person of whatever details, but I don’t think it breaks particularly. A charm that lets you return to the same face again and again would still work – the main limitation is that you can’t use it to fake being someone else, if someone else uses shenanigans to make someone else look like ‘you’ then it’s still good, because you’re not pretending to be someone else, there’s just someone else that happens to look like ‘you’ wandering around.

John:
I think that’s a very sound explanation and interpretation of the mechanics of that Charm.

SmilingBeast:
I’m curious what you think of the observation I made right after this hypothetical Charm was presented for discussion. Specifically, the issue of Lunars taking their own shapes and the shapes they’ve stolen – TRUE shapes – vs FALSE shapes they’ve made up. I don’t have an opinion on the way it SHOULD be, but is this kind of thing an issue to consider in 3E Lunar design?

John:
It is worth considering. If you can take a “made up” shape you are effectively getting around Heart’s Blood. As I made clear in the “Ask the Developers” thread, any option you give the Lunars to get around taking Heart’s Blood is going to transform how they are seen. Like if I gave them the Ability to grasp a target and absorb it, thereby taking its shape by merging with it, and allowing the Lunar to contain hundreds of these captured forms, which it could later release alive and unharmed. Suddenly the Lunars are this creepy-assed thing sorta like Pennywise? They are far more amorphous and nasty than something that just eats its prey to take on its power, which is a belief of many tribal myths.


Lord Raziere:
hm, I’m wondering.

lets say we make a few hypothetical Exigents.

an Exigent of Shapeshifting

an Exigent of Barbarism

an Exigent of Animals

an Exigent of Survival

an Exigent of Cthulhu

an Exigent of Witchery

Holden:
Not trying to bag on you when I say this, because it’s a super-intuitive first approach and it took us a while to figure out the wisdom I’m about to impart:

That is one of the worst ways to go about designing Exigents. It nets you a superhero rather than an Exalt about eight out of ten times. Unless an Exigent springs to mind full-formed, when you’re fishing about for them you almost always want to start with the god, not a concept. (Consider the different inherent thematic shading between “Chosen of Storms” and “Chosen of a Storm Mother,” or “Chosen of Wilderness” and “Chosen of a Dog of the Unbroken Earth”)

Lord Raziere:
good to know, they’re not intended to be actual Exigents, they’re just for sake of example….

Lea:
Fair enough, but… your followup question:

Originally Posted by Lord Raziere:
how would Lunars be different from each one?

Lea:
The Lunars would be different from each one because you don’t have an Exigent of Animals, you have an Exigent of This Particular Animal God, and the manner in which your Exigent of This Particular Animal God is going to differ from a Lunar will flow, quite freely and clearly, from the nature of This Particular Animal God. Likewise… Exigent of Shapeshifting…? Is there a God of Shapeshifting? Have there ever been that?

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be! I’m saying if you can’t come up with the actual specifics of your hypothetical God of Shapeshifting, then you don’t have a developed God of Shapeshifting yet and can’t make an Exigent of Shapeshifting who was Chosen by it. And if you do have the specifics of your actual God of Shapeshifting, then it’ll be pretty clear how your Exigent of Shapeshifting differs from Lunars, because you’ll be able to draw on the specifics of your God of Shapeshifting when coming up with your Exigent.

Paradim:
I think that the point may be that the character of the deity that is Exalting someone has a significant impact on the resulting Exalt. For example that, if Luna had lost to Zatesh in her crucible, with Zatesh being the deity of the moon that Creation knows, then the Lunar Exalted of Zatesh would be very different than the Lunar Exalted of Luna.

Least, that’s my interpretation.

Delgarde:
Yeah, that’s my read, too. An Exigent is the Chosen of a specific god – not of that god’s divine portfolio. They’re not a volcano-Exigent – they’re the Exigent created by a particular god who happens to have domain over a volcanic island in the West. And likewise, Lunars are the Chosen of Luna – not the Exalted of some abstract concept of shapeshifting and stuff. The god is of utmost importance to the process…

Wolfwood2:
That implies a truly impressive amount of teamwork between the Maidens, that they could end up with a single Exalt type differing only by caste rather than five separate exalt types. Perhaps the closed charmset isn’t their whim but was a necessary component of the entire process.

Lea:
The Celestial Incarnae are numinous and transcendent in ways other gods are not. Also handwave handwave.

LordofArcana:
Something that struck me as off was being a Chosen of a particular Dog of Unbroken Earth. Perhaps very closely related and possibly weaker gods would work together to exalt someone? So there wouldn’t be a chosen of a particular Storm Mother, but rather the Chosen of Storm Mothers (with some not having participated). Of course if a particular Storm Mother distinguished herself sufficiently from her fellows, that would be different.

More powerful gods wouldn’t need that kind of help, but if they are sufficiently similar they still could take advantage of the possibility.

Lea:
The Exigence is the help weaker gods need to Exalt their own champions. Ten Sheaves was just a Field Guardian, remember — that’s a particular type of god, down around the power level of Dogs of the Unbroken Earth and somewhat weaker than Storm Mothers. He wasn’t Heroic Field Guardian, Distinct From All Other Field Guardians; he was just some tiny Terrestrial god who stepped up when stepping up was needed.

Lord Raziere:
So….its more about the god than the concept?

that IS unintuitive. which means I’m going to have to figure out the god I want draw upon beforehand, which means he would have his own character and methods and so on and so forth.

which means I’d basically have to make an extra character just to make one hero. thats kind of annoying, even if it does allow for a lot of personalization. it means that one volcano god Exigent is different from another though.

I should probably start now, just to get that out of way for the concepts I want…

Lea:
Making up a good whole Charm set is difficult, and Exigents are the homebrew Exalted splat. The Exigent hardcover is not going to present one single, unified Exigents Charm set for all Exigents to use; it’s going to have a few examples and a lot of help for STs, presented both as mechanical precedents and prose advice, on how to make new Exigents from scratch including their Charm sets. I have very little doubt that one of the pieces of advice it’ll offer is “Start by making up the god who created the Exigent; this may seem like extra work, but having it done will actually save you a lot of work later when it comes time to make your Charm set come off as interesting and not just one-note.”

hippokrene:
How is a Lunar different from an Exigent of Luna? Or are they the same thing?

Lea:
As far as I know, there aren’t Exigents of Luna. She doesn’t need to petition the Unconquered Sun to provide her access to the Exigence to create Exalted, and if she tried he’d probably sort of look at her and be all like “Srsly?” The Exigence is for gods lesser than the Incarnae, to help them do something only the Incarnae among the gods could really do without that help.

Lord Raziere:
because you’d think that at some point there would just be y’know…some commonalities? there is only so many ways you can say “this fire magic is different because…” even the Exigents will eventually have things in common

Lea:
They’re going to have things in common in the same sense that a Solar and a Lunar multiattack Charm might resemble each other mechanically, because there’s only so many good ways to model multiattacking. But even so, a Solar and a Lunar multiattack Charm are not going to be mechanically identical, and neither are a forest fire Exigent’s fire Charms and a volcano Exigent’s fire Charms. If you want to make an Exigent of fire, start by figuring out what kind of fire god it might be fun and interesting to play the Exigent of; if you want to specifically play “The Exigent of the most generically firey fire god that could exist, because I want to play a guy with fire powers and not a guy with this specific god’s fire powers” you’re gonna have a bad time.

(Look at it this way. You could play the Exigent of a fire god who is also a catgirl.)

nexus:
As I understood the setting logic behind the term Exigent is a just a type or class of Exalt (like Terrestrial vs Celestial), the unusual one offs (typically) that gods below the Incarna level can produce in the right circumstances. So an “Exigent” of Luna or the Unconquered Sun would basically be a Lunar or Solar respectively if they ever choose to create a Chosen that way.

John:
All true. As a side note, the Incarnae can’t use the Exigence to make more Chosen.

Lord Raziere:
……..argh, silly me trying to use logic and consistency for mythical powers, what was I thinking.

That combination does sound good though, if oddly unconnected, I have to make some way of associating the two things. now Exigent of a shadow god that is also a catgirl…..much more plausible, as cats being nocturnal are associated with shadow.

Blaque:
Nothing stops a god who happened to be feline in features and shape who also happened to be about fire and such. If not a cat I can easily imagine at least a fox. I’m using the browser named for that right now. I mean there are war gods associated with sharks, bulls, ravens, hawks, wolves, and effing dragons right now.

But a big factor seems to be not just making the god’s purview important, but also its personality and impact on things. What personality it has and such.

Lord Raziere:
Yes, but the war gods all make sense. sharks, bulls, hawks, wolves and dragons are all predators while ravens are similar enough to crows to merit a “scavenger” association. as far as I can recall, the only cat could possibly have any connection to the sun are lions.

your telling me that the Exigents design is basically just “mash up whatever you think is cool no matter how unconnected into a singular divine champion” is that correct?

Lea:
No, there has to be some sort of an underlying consistency, but nothing stops you from deliberately setting out to challenge yourself by beginning with a few seemingly-unconnected elements and then trying to create something consistent out of them. Sometimes you will fail! Sometimes you’ll make something that’s kinda lame! That just means you have to start again.

Now, the obvious problem here is that if you go e.g. “Okay, lava pouring down the side of a mountain can look sort of like a slithering snake depending on the contour of the rock it’s pouring down, so how about a volcano snake?” is that a lava-snake spirit probably works best as an earth elemental, and elementals don’t get Exigents. So, on the downside, that didn’t work, but on the upside I just had an idea for a cool new earth elemental. Score!

(Also, bulls aren’t predators.)

“Fire exigent” remains pretty one-note, though. The goal is to create a notable hero chosen by the gods in the vein of mythic narrative, not the Human Torch. So, yeah, make a cat-shadow god and then make a shadow-exigent associated with cats and darkness and things. Make a lion-sun god who’s one of the Unconquered Sun’s lieutenants from ages and ages ago, and then make a sunfire-cat Exigent.

Anu:
To Wikipedia!

So the common mythological symbols of the snake are fertility and rebirth, guardianship, poison and medicine, and vengefulness and vindictiveness. You can easily build a volcano god out of that.

Rebirth: Volcanic ash kills most of the plant life, which then regrows because of the fertility of volcanic soil.

Guardianship: Moats of boiling lava make for excellent protection.

Poison: Volcanic ash and fumes are toxic.

Vengefulness: Volcanic eruptions happen when the god is angered.

It’s really easy to make a volcano god who has the shape of a snake.

(I know that’s not the point, but I really, really love how mythography can create common associations between two seemingly unrelated elements if you look deep enough. I’m just a nerd that way.)

Lea:
This is genuinely great. (And if you did it again with cats, you could probably make a good catgirl-volcano-goddess and justify an Exigent who has genuine mythical resonance while simultaneously appealing to someone who wants to play a catboi-fire-Exalt the same way Solars are appealing to people who just want to play Cloud Strife. Exalted has never really shied away from “Okay, if we do it well, we can afterwards admit it was all an excuse to play Sephiroth, really.”)


Dulahan:
Honestly, I don’t know what they are to me anymore.

They never were what I wanted after the original Core 1e book, and that “Illusionist” edge is a big thing I always wanted more focus on. Instead they lost a lot. And the depictions they gained never really did it for me either.

John:
Do you mean “Illusionist” in the sense of casting phantasmal force?

Lea:
Speaking personally, I mostly just wanted to be able to e.g. make a dilapidated mansion appear whole and luxurious, because of that one thing the fox-shifter did in Sandman: The Dream Hunters1. Not so much phantasmal force or silent image as being able to cast seemings on things to make other people perceive them as other things. So, gold coins that are actually leaves, regal garments that are actually peasant rags, etc. EDIT: Possibly a beautiful carriage that’s actually a pumpkin.

I don’t really want it anymore, though, because it’s closely associated with a method of shapeshifting where e.g. once you notice that the beautiful woman has a fox-tail poking out from under her dress, you look at her face and realize she has actually been a fox in a dress the whole time, OMG, and that’s not really how Lunar shapeshifting should work. Tying Lunar shapeshifting to the physical but then giving them a bunch of powers that make the most sense given a much more trickery-and-illusion shapeshifting paradigm leads to incoherence.

1. Sandman: The Dream Hunters is a standalone original pastiche of Japanese fairy tales by Neil Gaiman, in which the character of the Sandman only appears tangentally; it is mostly about a monk. He goes to a remote temple where he’s pestered by a shapechanging fox and badger, but the fox falls in love with him, and then later it turns out he was sent there by a court magician who had forseen his own doom and was using ritual magic to inflict it on the monk instead. There’s a bit after the monk dies and the fox takes revenge where she makes the magician fall in love with her, and then gets him burn all his belongings and follow her to a remote country estate, where he compliments her on the decor and fine food and she goes “Yes, and to think, if I hadn’t been here, you might have had to sleep in a dilapidated old mansion and dined on mice and spiders!” My very first thought when reading the 1e Lunar description was “Awesome; I’mma make a Lunar character who can do that.” And then of course it turned out Lunars can’t do that.

John:
This sounds amazingly cool, but how do you do it without messing with the Loom of Fate and without casting phantasmal force? Evaluate it separately from what you’ve been told about Lunars and just from the standpoint of what you know about Essence.

Lea:
Maybe “Under the light of a waning moon, the eyes play tricks — a gnarled branch may seem as a grasping claw, or a [insert other example of thing looking like other thing in dim light here that isn’t something lame like a coat on a rack looking like a stranger in the hallway]. A Lunar may give one thing the appearance of another.”

John:
This is still the action of a phantasm, by shifting moonlight or Lunar Essence. I’m not trying to be a bickerer here, and I’m certainly not saying that phantasmal powers are bad.

Lea:
There’s really no way to get away from ephemeral phantasms here, because the alternative — literally shaping things into other things — is if anything even lamer. I never liked Lunar Charms that let them take one thing and make it pliable so they can turn it into another thing, so that leaves us with persistent holograms or some sort of mind-whammy effect. (And anyway it’d be dumb to do the my-mansion-is-actually-a-hovel trick with a literal stuff-is-pliable-like-clay Charm.)

I think it can be made acceptable by putting in a bit of text in the Charm about moonlight, but I don’t write Charm sets!

That said, when people lament Lunars losing illusion powers, I think they are mostly lamenting the loss of powers like that depicted in Sandman: The Dream Hunters, and they don’t have an answer for how those powers can be well-portrayed because, d00d, they want to pay us game designers to answer that question! That’s why they buy books!

John:
I’m not sure lame is the word I’d want to use. I would say that it’s incongruous with the power of shapeshifting.

Lea:
Yeah, I don’t have a solution. If one is sufficiently attached to that sort of trickery-and-illusion motiff and the idea that it should apply to Lunars, the obvious solution is to proclaim that obviously, Lunar magic should not just be about physical shapeshifting, but about all sorts of things that relate to it — physical shapeshifting but also mental trickery and hypnosis-style make-you-believe-things powers, and casting seemings and conjuring holograms, etc.. And while it would be pretty easy to justify including all that under the domain of Luna, goddess of the night and trickery and misdirection and things, the result can easily come across as incoherent. This is how we got Lunars 2e. I would like some way to reconcile it all, but I don’t have one.

John:
Well, shapeshifting and phantasmal illusions are two very different and very powerful abilities. They are not necessarily inversions, but they aren’t of a same set either. I think it’s safer to say that they are conversions of one another. If I allowed Lunars to pick shapeshifting or the power to project illusions, I would quickly have people demanding that they should get both and that a disconnect is unreasonable, even if I were to explain the logic of the division in-text. I don’t see the gain being worth the subtraction from the “were-thing” side of the design, which is already going to be super complex and difficult to resolve.

LordofArcana:
People are surprisingly unobservant and take a lot for granted. A quick-witted Lunar can easily take advantage of this for smaller objects. Doing so for a structure is harder, but still possible. All of this would fade under careful examination, but I don’t see why Lunars couldn’t do supernaturally effective stage magic.

John:
I completely agree, but that’s a whole other sort of illusionist.

LordofArcana:
If they can pass off leaves as money and a dilapidated structure filled with cobwebs as a mansion with beautiful tapestries, does it matter that they are actually taking advantage of a trick of the light?

John:
They can’t do that, and yes it does matter.

LordofArcana:
In this case I am confused as to what you meant when you said you agreed with me. My argument was that Lunars can cause seemingly miraculous illusions, and they do so through physical manipulation and awareness of others’ points of view (in this case quite literally). A Sidereal manipulates fate, a raksha creates a phantasm, but a Lunar uses a trick. In each case the practical result might be quite similar, but the process is very distinct.

What was your thought on the matter?

John:
It means I agree that Lunars can do illusionist stuff, but illusionist stuff doesn’t include changing the way someone views reality.

Shamana:
Alright… I was hoping for something more than basically mundane legerdemain and trickery,

John:
Sounds reasonable for the quixotic and mysterious Changing Moons to have more than just petty tricks. I should note here that I think sleight of hand is pretty amazing, though, especially if you can trick a god with it.

Shamana:
perhaps being able to induce hallucinations, hypnosis,

John:
I definitely plan to look into this. Not making any promises, but I see this as fertile ground.

Shamana:
or using essence to create ephemeral constructs – a bit like how the Glorious Solar Saber and similar charms, but with something much more dispersed and malleable.

John:
As much as I hate being the bad guy, I detect a fair number of problems with Lunars projecting phantasmal force.

John:
I read several Coyote myths from a book at the university library tonight.

In not one of them did he change shapes or cast an illusion.

SmilingBeast:
There definitely is the issue of people asking for Coyote influence in their Lunar trickster abilities, and linking that to the shapechange discussion, when that really isn’t Coyote. Kitsune, sure. Wukong, definitely. Coyote? You need the Manipulation Excellency, a ton of imagination, and an irritating laugh.

John:
In terms of being tremendously good liars and con artists, yes Lunars will be great analogs for Coyote and Anansi.

Paradim:
Hrm… Coyote is an anthropomorphized entity. In some of the stories, he’s talked about as a coyote, some stories he’s talked about as a man and other stories he’s not really given a specific description of being either a coyote or a man, because he’s Coyote and whether he’s a coyote or a man doesn’t matter for the purpose of the story of Coyote being Coyote.

I find it similar to how Zeus isn’t described as the Greek deity of Shapeshifting, despite him taking the form of animals in all sorts of stories.

So, I would not say that Coyote is lacking in inspiration for a shapeshifter, especially if you’re looking at how a Lunar character can become famous (or is that infamous?) as both the Lunar as a human and the Lunar as their preferential animal.

John:
I find Coyote and Anansi to be very interesting and likely candidates for Lunar inspiration!

But they have specifically been brought up to me in this thread and on the Ask the Devs thread as part of an argument for illusion magic or the power to freeform shapeshift, and in my admittedly limited explorations, which I vow to expand, I have yet to see how they have become such a talisman for fans who want to see that happen. I’m not saying that they’re wrong, and I plan to keep reading, but to be honest it’s beside the point, because even if Anansi is switching shapes by stealing the face of anyone who blinks in his presence, and even if Coyote reveals himself to be the master of kanzen saimin, it wouldn’t change any of the problems with those ideas given over to Lunars.

Paradim:
…To be honest, I really get this vibe in general discussions of Lunars and Shapeshifting, that if a Lunar Exalted just stuck to the stuff they get from their Spirit Shape, then they’re a shitty shapeshifter. Like if you’re not constantly expanding the options of what you can shapeshift into, then you’re doing it wrong.

I don’t think that’s what you mean to imply or suggest. I just see it creep up a lot.

John:
Yeah, that’s an attitude I see a lot as well. And it is makes very little sense to me.

Paradim:
I really do support Lunar Exalted being shapeshifters that can expand in breadth and pull off Beast Boy shenanigans, because that’s fun, but I also hope that there’s plenty of support for Lunar Exalted being shapeshifters who are strong in being who they are, whether that’s the Lunar as a man or the Lunar as wolf or whatever animal they particularly identify with, and not be seen as ‘wasting’ their capabilities or not being a proper Lunar.

…Huh. I said a lot more than I initially intended. I guess that’s just been something that’s been bugging me on this particular topic.

John:
That’s intriguing, and I think I agree with you, but I am not certain. Could you elaborate?

Paradim:
Moonlight trickery, kitsunebi (aka will-o-the-wisps), kitsune are known for crafting illusions for trickery, the Ramayana and Mahabharata (sweet friggin cripes the Exalted inspiration here!!) have the Rakshasa who are shapeshifting demons who are powerful warriors, magicians and illusionists.

I don’t think it’s random. There are legends out there of shapeshifting creatures who have powers of illusion. We’ve had Sun Wukong mentioned by someone multiple times and that’s from Journey To The West which is listed inspirational material from the Exalted 2nd Edition Core. Why does it seem random when the books have pointed specifically to shapeshifters known to have illusion powers?

Frankly, I wouldn’t want to box off illusion magic as a “Lunar” thing. Let all the Exalted get in on it! I’d want Air-Aspects playing with sounds in the air to make you hear what they want you to hear, I’d want Fire-Aspects playing tricks with the light from torches or fireplaces, ‘phantasm’ is a deadringer descriptor for Abyssals and I’m 100% positive that Holden can come up with illusionary tricks that Sidereals can play with.

Illusions are just fun for everyone and should be a sandbox everyone gets to play in! ^.^

John:
I would like to see where the books pointed to those things as part of the Lunar design, so I can adjust my thinking.

It’s not that Lunars can’t or won’t have illusion magic, it’s just an issue of how it will be balanced against their shapeshifting, which is going to be very powerful. Free-standing, free form illusions are one of the most powerful effects you can get. It implies the ability to make multiple Solars and Sidereals see something that’s not there and draw conclusions which are incorrect, before dice ever come into play. The ability to work this kind of change on the world around you also doesn’t match the jutsu nature of Lunar Charms or how they interact with their Essence. Forcing an illusion on a single target through some means of contestable delivery is possible* within this design, but it would be far less powerful because it would be single target and contestable.

*though I am not guaranteeing it, since the rest of the mechanics have to be written.

Tokezo Tenken:
As a general note, I find this an acceptable stance on Lunars. I’m simply pointing out that something we consider illusory is very different from what other cultures might consider, especially when removed from modern context although certainly not exclusive of modern context either.

John:
Yes, there are multiple definitions of illusionist and different ways of being a Trickster. It’s why I have to be very clear in separating the meanings, because I don’t want people to think I’m saying “yes” to something I’m not, or “no” to something I’m not. In general, I am trying not to say no to anything, but to shine light on the design logic (without spoilers) to explain some of the reasons why X might happen but maybe not Y.

Quotes from the 1st edition core:
Those Lunars who retain their sentience also have a deep connection to the unconscious mind, and they can use this to create complex and deadly illusions or to evoke primal emotions – love, rage, despair and the like – in the minds of those around them, friend and foe alike.

Flibbertigibbet:
There’s a rich mine of potential in that statement. Personally, I guessed this would be something like Malkavian Dementation, except with a more positive flavor, and maybe a touch of Cliomancy and a couple of Bard Buffs.

John:
What I am specifically looking for are the design points that reference–indirectly or otherwise–the material he is citing.

Tokezo Tenken:
I’m not sure I’m parsing your statement correctly. Do you mean source inspiration?

John:
Na, just wondering if he sees some design point that I don’t. I see similarities but not the more damning absence of not being able to do what a direct progenitor of the Lunars could do. Which I know, was not his point. I’m not saying it is. But I have to evaluate resources based on the most extreme expectations. If I say “yes like Kitsune” and it’s only because your Lunar can have fox tails, then people who expected something else and didn’t get that are going to think I lied to them.


Rand Brittain:
At this point I think the biggest thing that seems to stand in the way of my saying anything about the Lunar Exalted or having opinions about them is that I no longer know what their mythic inspirations are supposed to be.

At one point I would have said Anansi, Loki, Sun Wukong, or Baba Yaga, but now it feels as though any of all of those are not a part of the intended design. Although it’s hard to be sure because I know so little about what that design is.

John:
Inspiration might mean as much as having one similarity, or being a direct port of something else. The Exalted are not a direct port of real world mythology. There are some deliberate similarities, though.

“Sell Me on Exalted Third Edition” Thread Summary

Now that I’ve gotten the developer Q&A summaries up to date, I figured I’d look for other dev notes to compile. So here’s the relevant developer and writer commentary from July’s “[Sell me on] [Exalted+] Exalted Third Edition” thread on RPG.net.


DoctorDogGirl:
What is this Edition going to be ABOUT?

What will make it different?

And why should I pick it up along with all of its supplements? About the only thing I know of is the Liminal Exalted.

Holden:
There are a lot of answers to that. On the most simplistic level, it’s still Exalted. You’re still playing the Chosen of the gods in the desperate twilight of an age of magic, wonder, and heroes, warring for love and passion and greed and ideology among the ruined splendors of a lost age of even vaster glories.

On one level, it’s a re-focusing on the game as a pulp fantasy revival. EX2 experienced kind of uncontrolled scope creep and in a sense it became about whatever element of sci-fi or pop fantasy or weird fiction that any given writer wanted to pull into the game. EX3 pushes the giant cthulhoid monstrosities and exhaustive laundry-list of First Age car alarms to the margins to re-focus on greedy kings and desperate heroes and wicked sorcerers and petty gods as the foundational bedrock of play.

On another level, it’s a controlled expansion of the game’s scope. Creation is bigger, and there are more fantastic oddities out there at the edges of the world waiting to be uncovered than ever before, from the sorcerer-kings of the Dreaming Sea to the Lunar/Dragon-Blooded war over the shrines of the Caul.

We’ve worked to recapture the game’s old weird fantasy feel, when it was this forgotten age of base ambitions and lost magic, and anything might be lurking around the corner– when the Exalted themselves were not yet quantified and nobody felt like they had an encyclopedic command of everything in the setting. Thus the new Exalts, the expanded map, the new West, the loose gods, the Ten Fathers of Volivat, the White Elixir, the thing that has awoken beneath Gloam.

System-wise, the game was re-built nearly from scratch to express the kind of game Exalted was always trying to be, without the hamstringing problem of trying to run a game of epic cinematic action and intrigue on a slightly-to-moderately overhauled version of the Vampire: the Masquerade engine. It has fairly tight balance, better scaling, and a hard focus on tactile communication of the feel of Exalted. According to most of the people who’ve gotten to try it out, it succeeds at those goals admirably.

You should pick it up because a) it does Exalted better than anything else has previously done Exalted, b) it’s full of new expanded coolness, and c) the supplement cycle is also full of new coolness.

Also 3e sorcery rocks and is full of flair, personal style, and functionality, rather than being this half-baked character trap that draws you in with the promise of coolness but doesn’t quite deliver. There’s that.

DoctorDogGirl:
Thank you, Holden!

Much appreciated and that clarifies quite a few things.

One thing I’m worried about is that I really thought Exalted was the one setting which emphasized, almost to the point of becoming a selling point, that they were movers and shakers in society. Exalted was a setting you couldn’t Metaplot because the idea was that the PCs would be changing things left and right: destroying Gem, breaking the Great Curse, slaying gods, overturning dynasties, and so on.

I’m curious what the expected power-level for the setting is going to be, honestly, and how that will affect the kind of stories to be told. One of the interesting things I discussed with my players was that you had the Terrestials for stories about Conan and the Gray Mouser, the Solars for Hercules and Monkey, and Lunars for….well, okay, Werewolf: The Apocalypse.

I’m curious what sort of power level the developers see for Third Edition and the kind of adventures Solars are expected to do. Be they, “We do the impossible” in figurative terms (“You stole the Perfect of Paragon’s harem!?”) or literal (“We slew Silence today!”). I’m also curious how the developers intend to handle game-balance between the various types of Exalted as the Tiers of Solar/Abyssal>Lunar>Sidereal/Alchemical>Dragonblooded thing was kind of built into the setting for better or worse.

I thought better, others thought worse.

Holden:
Well, you’re playing the reincarnations of the guys who slew and/or imprisoned the makers of the world and then brought all of Creation to heel for thousands of years of glorious golden hegemony. You are still those guys. But most of your works have crumbled to dust in your absence, and there are a whole set of different badasses sitting on your thrones. You may want to do something about that!

EX3 is a game where a starting Dawn can absolutely break armies single-handedly, but can also be brought down by a heroic archer in the moment he stops paying attention or treating his foes like real threats. Wrestling an angry gorilla into submission with your bare hands is an impressive feat rather than something not even worth breaking out the dice to resolve. Octavian is beatable, but very scary. Basically, the scope of accomplishment the game offered in previous editions is still there, but the cruise-control aspect that was somewhat present in 1e and really bad in 2e is gone– you don’t hit E4 and then get to just put up some scenelongs and turn your brain off as you smash the entire setting (absent the odd Deathlord) into jelly any more.

sakii:
This is something that i still cant understand. How can you single handed destroy an army and hava a challenge wrestling an animal??

Eric:
This attitude downplays how powerful and terrifying many animals can be.

Vance:
Single-handedly destroying an army isn’t exactly a trivial feat, either.

Lea:
Yeah, animals are dangerous. D&D’s traditional “Half as many hit dice as an owlbear, no fancy supernatural powers like troll regeneration or ghoul paralysis, claw/claw/bite attack routine, exchanges blows until dead” representation does not exactly live up to real the real historical or mythic mystique attached to, say, the Tsavo Man-Eaters.

Lea:
One of the disadvantages of traditional combat abstraction a la D&D is that things like gorillas and crocodiles, by themselves, are difficult to model in an interesting fashion. In many RPGs, something like a crocodile’s bite-grapple-roll would be modeled as, well, a bite attack, which you are free to narrate however you want… but which in the mechanics isn’t very fearsome — it’s hard to get worked up about a crocodile bite when you’ve just fought a young adult dragon, which has that same bite but with a higher to-hit and damage number, and also the dragon had a wing buffet and a breath weapon and some spellcasting it could vary its combat routine with. This contributes to people thinking of animals as mooks — if a combat opponent doesn’t have something exceptional (that is, modeled-in-an-exception-based-fashion, in the manner of breath weapons or a paralysis touch) to bring to the table, then who cares?

Exalted Third Edition most assuredly doesn’t have this problem. An army and a pair of lions bring different things to the table, and there are characters who would prefer to face one and characters who would prefer to face the other. We’ve ensured that even things that don’t have explicitly supernatural powers can be tactically interesting and a challenge to face. Which is really handy once dinosaurs enter the picture!


Yama Dai O:
Does the new game drop, retain or have a new angle on the CCG elements of first edition?

Vance:
As a long-time Magic: the Gathering fan, I think, subjectively, that it feels more like playing a CCG than Second Edition did (I never played 1E). While there isn’t a systemized mechanic for combos, the synergies between Charms and strategies that arise from them are still very much a thing, and the dynamic “flow” of momentum in combat creates an element of change that is similar to drawing a new card every turn. I can make my Dawn Caste an “aggro” fighter whose goal is to build up for a first-round alpha strike, or I can go for a more “control”-oriented build that plays the long game, and both have their strengths and weaknesses.

Holden:
There’s a lot of tactical depth to EX3*, which owes something to the CCG ambitions of 1e, but also a lot to fighting games and other stuff. 1e and 2e, for all the big Charm lists, never had much in the way of tactical depth, since the intended play tactics revolved around “force or trick the opponent into making a mistake,” where the mistake was very obvious (leaving yourself with no defense) and completely avoidable at all times by just doing the same thing (using a Combo with your defenses in it).

EX3 has a lot more moving parts and elements to worry about, less binary tools to manipulate them, and way more options to choose from. It is also hugely, hugely skewed toward group combat tactics, rather than 1v1 tactics that just happen to be taking place in a crowded room as was the norm with 1e and 2e. During the playtest, I could tell you with 100% accuracy which feedback emails were coming from people reading the packets and either theory-crafting scenarios or running small set-piece tests, and which ones came from people actually playing at a table, because the tactical paradigm transformed completely for the latter, and things that looked useless in white-room duels became powerhouse game-changers in group fights.

*I try not to toss that out as an idle boast. Many games claim tactical depth, but in my experience very very few actually deliver it.

taichara:
Goddamnit. There goes the long-held-in-abeyance plans of a single-player campaign for my flatmate, sounds like >_<

Holden:
Nah go ahead with that. The game plays very differently, but it doesn’t stop working.

MemoryBeast:
I’m fascinated by this. I know you can’t give detailed mechanical information, but is it possible for you to speak in general terms about some of the “tells” that showed which groups were actually playing and which were just theorycrafting? No specific Charms or anything, just the general tactics and options that reveal themselves in play but not in white-room?

Holden:
In MMO terms, imagine the difference between getting feedback from three groups that are trying to clear dungeons with five Mages, and one group that has discovered that one guy can ‘tank’ for everyone else, if someone else heals him. Tactical specialists open up all kinds of doors you just don’t see if everyone tries to build their character as a self-contained solo combatant– although even if they do that, the group that fights together and pays attention to what’s going on across the whole battlefield will trump the one that just pairs off into self-contained duels, almost every time.


DoctorDogGirl:
I mean, *I* play Solars and I use Dragonblooded but maybe, just maybe, I’d want to do an Alchemical game.

J. H. Frank:
Then you’d have to wait until the Alchemicals book, just like second edition. Or, come to think of it, first edition.

DoctorDogGirl:
True but I suppose the larger question is whether or not it might have been better to present the various Exalted options upfront.

Holden:
That would have definitely been better.

Also, impossible.

Alas.

Isator Levie:
Autochthon, Alchemicals and Warstriders will surely be in the game at some point, but… even discounting that the last one will be in the first place, they’ll hardly be part of the core experience of the game, and never have been.

I mean, what, does one need an assurance that Alchemicals are going to be in a book eventually before one consents to play games of Solars and Dragon Blooded and a couple of the others fighting for love and glory amidst the beautiful and merciless Creation? On what, a matter of principle?

Or is one not going to play those kinds of games in the first place, in which case the core book wouldn’t be useful for much anyway.

IntegralENT:
How about one eschews playing a game of Solars and DBs cause one does NOT WANT TO play a game of Solars and DBs, but wants to play a game with Alchemicals that doesn’t feel like it’s been tacked on as an afterthought?

Holden:
One will have to wait several years, until that supplement comes out.


Mengtzu:
I think it’s useful to understand Ex3 as not wanting you to invest less time in mechanics, but rather getting a significantly better return on that investment.

Unless you’re a GM, it does really want you to spend less of your life statting NPCs.

Holden:
This is entirely in line with what we tried to do with the game, yes.

Isator Levie:
Surely GMs are the only people who need to spend their time statting NPCs, and would certainly appreciate getting to spend less time doing it?

(I know that your sentence is meant to read “it doesn’t want you to invest less effort in character building unless you’re a GM who’ll want to easily make NPCs; this is what semicolons are for )

Holden:
He means that the only people it wants to invest less time in mechanics than previous edition are GMs, who will no longer be required to blow 15 hours on prep work for their game each week.


Lea:
I think if you’re in the position where personality mechanics like Limit seem obviously and axiomatically terrible, it can be difficult to hear “New, improved edition of Exalted!” and not assume “Okay, if their claims of improvement are true, they’ll be removing the obviously and axiomatically terrible bits.” See also: People who don’t like exception-based power-sets.

Nihnoz:
The only thing I can confidently declare obviously and axiomatically terrible in 3e is using different resources for chargen and advancement. That’s easy enough to houserule out, though.

AliasiSudonomo:
Also, it’s not ‘obviously and axiomatically terrible’. If your desire is to encourage a starting character to buy more of thing A than thing B, and to encourage acquiring thing B as a result of play, then it makes perfect sense to use a different scale in each case and at that point, you might as well call the two different currencies different names, too. The explicit advice on how to spend your bonus points gives that a lot of validity in my eyes. Now, that doesn’t mean I agree with it, necessarily – one of my first house rules will be to replace the geometric XP costs with something flatter, most likely, as my group does now – but it’s still not axiomatically wrong.

Black Flag:
Yeah, it helps to keep in mind why certain things are thought of as bad. Having multiplicative XP costs in combination with flat costs in character creation strongly encourages min-maxing. The thing is, in Exalted characters are kind of supposed to be min-maxed out the gate, since these are people with extraordinary skills in certain specific areas. So, annoying as it might be in something like WoD (hence their making it all flat in 2e), in Exalted it at least makes a kind of sense.

As for the other stuff, it never ceases to amaze me how many people were hoping that the new and improved Exalted would be made for people who didn’t actually like Exalted to begin with—or who kind of liked the idea of it but none of the actual particulars.

Kath:
The problem is less encouraging min maxing and more that it favours certain character concepts over others. And when I say ‘favours’, I don’t mean ‘is 5% more cost effective”, I mean “is 50% more cost effective”. This means that a player who picks a sensible but not system-favoured concept can be sessions and sessions and sessions behind in xp compared to someone with a system-favoured concept. By my rough calculations, the difference between the best and worst chargen choices if 50+xp, in a game where you get about 6xp per session. How is it fun to have someone be almost 10 sessions of xp down on another character?!

If the game genuinely wants to encourage people to build specific types of characters in character generation, that’s fine – just outright remove the newbie trap options, rather than keeping them in to preserve the illusion of choice. D&D 3.0 is often justifiably criticised for including deliberate trap options, but the degree of asymmetry you see with Exalted’s chargen is just as much of a deliberate trap as the Toughness feat.

For example, rather than giving a bunch of bonus points to spend as you want, why not limit them to the options that are favoured by the system? Being transparent in your rules is a good thing, and only makes the game easier and more fun to both run and play.

Holden:
1) Sometimes people want to make a thing. I would prefer to let them know what it is they’re buying, and then let them buy it if that’s still what they want.

2) This was a huge problem with EX2 because there was a certain way to build that let you crush the game, and a bunch of other ways that got you humiliatingly destroyed, and little space inbetween. This is not a problem EX3 has– just picking the stuff that describes the guy in your head will produce a powerful, effective character nearly every time.

Holden:
This is about the seven thousandth time someone has tried to do the chargen argument. The book’s text was set in stone back in January. This is a + thread. I’m really not interested in arguing about it.

Mattheq:
I’m not really trying to convince you, I just think it’s very strange you that you don’t seem to see the issue.

Holden:
Okay. I’ll bite. It won’t make you happier– it never does– but you pushed for it.

It’s a complex issue with a really obvious-looking first-contact summation which happens to be mostly wrong, but which most people fix on and never move past. I’m aware of everything you’ve said, and it’s the conclusion set that is arrived at after five minutes of looking at the issue. We’ve put probably twenty or thirty total hours of in-depth design tinkering and discussion into this subject. (Add in all the “Holden idly works the angles while taking a shower” time and that total triples or quadruples.)

The fact that I don’t share your conclusions is not the result of not understanding the subject, or failing to examine it.

I would like to leave it at “read the book, follow the chargen instructions and advice provided, and your entire group will end up with powerful, effective characters that match the concept you want to play and that will make you happy” and leave it there, because walking through the whole design-side breakdown of chargen and advancement from first causes to full ramifications for the thirtieth time is really exhausting.

I will say that we didn’t receive any playtester complaints about wild efficiency disparities stemming from chargen decisions, out of a pool of a couple hundred playtesters ranging from 2e veterans to first-time roleplayers. Think hard about that, because I can assure you the playtest pool 100% absolutely included people who hate Bonus Points.

Mattheq:
Okay. If you say you’re confidant character gen will work fine, I believe you. I’ve got a lot of hopes for the new edition, and I known very little about it so I’ll wait and see. It’s simply that the way you were responding made it seem like you were not aware of the degree of disparity possible in earlier editions, and that concerned me.

Thanks for responding.

Holden:
Even in earlier editions, the problem tended to be heavily misidentified, simply because it was easy to isolate as a thing and most reasonable human beings don’t want to spend countless hours dissecting failure states in gigantic complex rule-sets. Usually it was getting pointed at and blamed when the real problem was “certain informed character builds are orders of magnitude more powerful and useful than 98% of other builds,” and this remained true even if you built out of a huge bundle of XP. Give me totally flat and normalized creation-advancement rules, drop me in with a group of four other people who are all first-time players, and in 2nd edition, I can still build a character that can kill the entire rest of the group single-handedly without breaking a sweat. The fact that I can squeeze out more Ability dots than the guy who goes “KROG WANT MORE CHARMS” is the smallest variable influencing this result, but it’s also the easiest one to isolate, so it got to carry all the blame. The real problem is that the system itself was heavily exploitable in ways that were unintuitive to a first-time player, had lots of dead-ends that were not marked as such, and had lots of rules bits that didn’t actually do what they claimed they did (Flaws of Invulnerability, Intimacies).

Or to put it another way, this was a problem EX2 shared with D&D 3.5, which had completely flat and even creation and advancement. Uneven builds were not the real problem; the game containing shitloads of trap builds was real the problem, which uneven builds could exacerbate.

The real biggest problem with 2e chargen and advancement (and 1e chargen and advancement, too, but 1e didn’t have as much additional shit compounding the issue) is that some of the pricing was not only wildly out of whack with both advancement and the utility of the stats in question, but they then imposed a steep “character concept tax.” Virtues were the worst offender, followed by Essence and Willpower.

Edit: Also, that one “problem” was SO MUCH easier to “fix” than the problem of “the Charms are unbalanced, perfects are misconceived, the weapon and armor stats are all wonked, the combat engine is slow because it has two competing go-fast mechanisms, and the social combat rules don’t work very well.” The issue was that “fixing” that one “problem” didn’t significantly improve play once you did it, because it wasn’t the real culprit, just a minor amplifying factor.

Solar:
One might suggest that what you are saying doesn’t actually explain why one would keep the divide, if it’s a minor problem compared to a far more encompassing balance issue (which I agree it was) it’s still a minor problem that needs solving.

Holden:
Because it had a host of benefits that we highly valued, once the problems it was aggravating stopped existing.


Phaide:
Do you suppose we (backers) might see the PDF of the book this week prior to Gen Con? That would sell me on it.

Holden:
I would love that, but the PDF is not quite there yet. (Like, the current proof draft I’m going over, half the QC stat block for the yeddim mysteriously vanished somehow. That seems like the kind of thing you would want to fix before proudly going HEY GUYS LOOK AT OUR MASTERPIECE, you know?) We’re getting it ready as fast as we can, though, and it’s very close, at long last.


PrinceOfSwords:
Now, we know that there are over 300 charms in the book and 15 or so charms at character creation. A barrier for my group in the past has been that keeping track of that many discreet powers can be intimidating, especially if we have only one copy of the book to share. How lengthy are the charm descriptions in 3x? Would a first time player be able to quickly look over the available charms, select the ones that appeal to them (and be reasonably certain they chose “correctly”) and record them quickly in such a way that they can look back 2 weeks later and kick the monkey king in the tooshy?

Holden:
We built specifically to enable that, yep.

The total number of Charms in the book is over 700. The total number any given character can actually choose from at chargen is probably more like 50-60.

“Ask the Developers” Thread Summary, Post #15

This latest compilation of quotes from the RPG.net Exalted developers’ Q&A thread has caught up with the present! All Q&A info should now be available, at least until a dev responds to something new. Enjoy!

Links to previous threads:
Q&A Summary #1
Q&A Summary #2
Q&A Summary #3
Q&A Summary #4
Q&A Summary #5
Q&A Summary #6
Q&A Summary #7
Q&A Summary #8
Q&A Summary #9
Q&A Summary #10
Q&A Summary #11
Q&A Summary #12
Q&A Summary #13
Q&A Summary #14


Wuse_Major:
Holden, the last Monday Meeting indicated that you guys have gotten to see a near final layout. So I wanted to ask, is it Awesome or is it Totally Awesome?

Holden:
It’s prettier than Cthulhutech.


sakii:
what is the best MA for a sailor?

Vance:
Snake, as ever, is a pretty sweet style for everyone.

Tiger can be extremely brutal in shipboard combat, but is much less effective if your enemies can just jump over the side and swim away from you.

Righteous Devil is probably not a good idea to use on a boat.

Crane is going to be having some crazy wuxia fun with the ship’s rigging.

Silver-Voiced Nightingale lets you weaponize sea chanties, which is pretty awesome.

White Reaper is useful for boarding an enemy ship and murdering everyone on it, but may sometimes be hindered by a boat’s inability to hold as many opponents as they want to be taking on.

Dreaming Pearl Courtesan is not particularly suited to a sailor’s life, unless the people you plan on doing grievous bodily harm to are on your ship.

Ebon Shadow is badass if you are willing to transgress the boundaries between pirate and ninja.

Black Claw is going to enjoy the audience that being on a ship generally entails.

Steel Devil will work fine, as long as you don’t have a hook-hand.

Single Point Shining Into The Void doesn’t really seem like the best match for the overall naval milieu, but that don’t stop it from being hella deadly.

Cod Of Justice:
I’m kind of terrified (in an impressed way) of what White Reaper style’s optimal number of opponents is if a boatload of enemies is potentially beneath it.

Vance:
The optimal number of enemies for a White Reaper is “how many you got?”

sakii:
do the martial arts need noral charms to supplement them??
Like if i have Single Point Shining into the Void do i need to invest in some melee parry charms??

Vance:
You won’t need Charms from any of the four main combat Abilities, but drawing on some of the “support” Abilities like Dodge, Resistance, or Stealth can be very useful. Which Abilities are relevant varies from style to style.

sakii:
Before we were talking about how using shining point and white reaper would make a nice combination.
What other styles would make a good combo?

Vance:
Snake+Crane and Tiger+Ebon Shadow are the first ones that come to mind.

Holden:
Those are scary-good combinations.


The Exigentleman:
Actual question: I think you’ve already been asked this a while back, but I’m not sure. I can’t find it, and don’t know if it’s changed anyway. So… how easy will it be to design custom Evocations? I’m not talking about anything too elabourate, just a few simple charms to make my weapon feel like mine. I’d imagine Arms of the Chosen would give more support, but will this be doable out of core?

Holden:
Doing up custom artifacts is pretty easy, although it’s not a paint-by-numbers process.


Kahbiel:
I completely understand if this query falls under too mechanical or too early to tell; but just in case it doesn’t.. Is Violet Bier of Sorrows a discreet martial art style, or the general Siderial Brawl package?

Holden:
That book is still years off.


Winwaar:
On an entirely random note, I’ve been wondering about something: How many sets of clothing would people from across Creation own/wear?

I mean, one assumes that the answer doesn’t change from peasant on the Blessed Isle to peasant near the Sea of Dreams, but say, a merchant on the Blessed Isle versus a Khan near Chiaroscuro versus a Lookshayan mortal member of the Legion, and so on.

It’s an interesting thought, I think.

Holden:
Clothing is a mixture of social function and practical necessity for most people in Creation, which is to say– you have your feastday clothes that you probably also wear to services because really why risk irritating the gods by showing up wearing boots that smell like yak shit? Then you’ve got your work clothes possibly several sets if you have a complicated job like smith or leatherworker that actually requires some safety gear. You probably have at least one hat; depending on regional fashions, you might have two, one being part of your nice social clothing. And you probably have a quasi-shapeless but comfortable thing you wear at home after the work is done.

If you’re a member of the upper classes, clothing is social competition and you are announcing your status and competing with your rivals with both the quality and variety of your wardrobe.

If you’re in the legions, you have your battle gear, and a dress uniform, and -maybe- something simple to go on leave with that shares boots with your other kit, because you get to carry all your possessions from place to place so weight is your primary concern.

There are wild exceptions in all directions, of course. In the most blasted extremity of the South, even the nobles of Zinanza go adorned in only sandals and sun-hats, with jewelry to mark their high rank. They receive miserable sweating cloth-wrapped envoys from other states with amusement. Meanwhile, over in Ysyr, the sorcerer-princes strive to give away clothing to favored servants after wearing it only once, and to be adorned in new finery every day, though only a few can truly afford such waste.

Lea:
Elegant restraint among nobles tends to pop up in cultures where the merchant class has gotten really rich and is discovering the wonders of being able to afford all the things — nobles tend to move into “Oh, well, I could be into conspicuous consumption, too, but it’s so gauche!” to distinguish themselves from the nouveau-riche.

Realm doesn’t really have nouveau-riche.

David J Prokopetz:
On the other hand, it does have a class of nobles whose nobility is regarded as more of a technicality hanging around. I could totally see un-Exalted Dynasts being into conspicuous consumption in a big way specifically because the lack the inherent distinction of Exaltation to set them above the common masses – and, in term, Exalted Dynasts being into elegant restraint in order to provide a pointed reminder to their less fortunate relations that they don’t have anything to prove.

(Of course, they have plenty to prove, but not in that particular context.)

Lea:
I think it’d work out the other way, with Exalted Dynasts living big and passing sumptuary laws to prevent un-Exalted Dynasts and patricians from joining in on the fun — and, indeed, the ban on use of jade currency for everyone but the Exalted sort of supports that.

(To be clear I am not a dev; if John or Holden think it should work some other way, it works some other way. But the decadent pageantry vs. tasteful minimalism is probably a secular/Immaculate split within Dynastic culture itself, rather than being a split between mortals and Dynasts.)

So.

Victim:
I disagree. The social conflicts at high levels in the Realm seem to be generally organized as a House with its DB and patrician members

Holden:
Patricians are upper-class individuals who are not part of a Dynastic Great House, btw. There’s no such thing as a patrician member of a Great House. Some parts of a few older books seemed to think “patrician” meant “un-Exalted mortal Dynast,” but it doesn’t.


Lea:
Traditionally, the Realm does tax farming, but in the Threshold satrapies. Gathering taxes from peasants on the Isle is done through the Thousand Scales and such funds go straight into the Empress’s pockets.

This has of course changed since the Empress disappeared, when suddenly Dynasts in the Greater Deliberative started passing laws to put (their own!) Great Houses in charge of gathering rent on the Isle, and allowing them to claim (ever-growing) percentages of such gathered rent as their own.

I think.


Daerim:
Are we going to hit the same beats in the metaplot this time around as in the last two editions? Things like the Empress disappearing to Malfeas? Not assuming that everything is going to be verbatim, but are we getting basically the same story over again?

Lea:
The Empress has still disappeared, and certainly she can still have disappeared into Malfeas if you want, but we’re not going the “We’re not saying she’s in Malfeas, but wink wink she’s totally in Malfeas you guys” route this time around.


Isator Levie:
I’ve had this thought about creating a clandestine network that communicates via numerous pre-arranged codes and ciphers, such as going to a stall across from a secret safe house where you know somebody will be watching, and picking a red comb is an indication that you’re under surveillance or a gourd is a request for new instructions.

If designing and engaging in this kind of system was within the scope of the mechanics (I would think it should be; it feels appropriate and dramatic that there should be the usual level of mechanical effort and uncertainty behind whether or not your established standards are both opaque to outsiders and transparent to initiates, and whether or not a character trying to send such messages is able to keep it straight in the moment), I wonder what Ability would be most suited to it. Bureaucracy or Larceny? Linguistics, even?

Vance:
Communicating with a member of a secret society through the covert watchwords or ciphers of that organization is probably something I’d call for a Manipulation + Socialize roll for, though I’d be open to players suggesting a different Ability.

Actually devising and promulgating a cipher prooobably isn’t that interesting of a thing to roll for, but I could see the arguments for Linguistics or Bureaucracy that could be made if one were gonna roll it.

Isator Levie:
I’m hoping to extrapolate a lot from the presentation of managing organisations in general.

I’m compelled by a combination of reading about the organisational methods and procedures of insurrectionist groups in Imperial China and early Twentieth Century Ireland, and points about the civil service manuals of Prussia at the time that it was becoming a Great Power; I place a lot of stock in the significance of having a system that keeps everybody on the same page and, in the former case, can keep interlopers from breaking into it.

That and examples of how things break down when somebody makes a mistake; when they mix up signals or confuse portfolios or are just paralysed with indecision, and it spirals into something that exposes weaknesses.

It intersects with Solars particularly because one of the implications I tend to draw from the idea of them is as somebody who is able to command or communicate a complex system with a lot of… grace, if not fine control. I like the idea of a Solar who could make a clandestine group that would really effectively fly under the radar by virtue of training them in secrecy in a way that would be necessarily complicated while still managing to dodge the kinds of errors that complicated systems become prone to.

I just keep trying to spread my thinking out to the ground level of a rebellion, and keep seeing all the points at which they could give themselves away, and try to think of uncanny means of addressing that challenge.

Really, when it comes right down to it, it’s the sort of thing that I see clear as day in the arrangement of the Guild in Masters of Jade. I would think that some level of mechanical engagement of the process of devising the Eternal Ledger and the Game of Masks would be warrented.

Vance:
Based on your post, I think you’re going to be real happy with the leadership rules.


Coikzer:
Like I said, the big two page artwork spreads makes me wonder if digital reading was considered at all when designing and laying out the book. It does make me doubt that the book will be up to modern standards of digital design, but we’ll see, I suppose.

Holden:
Exalted has had 2-page artwork spreads since the 1e corebook. Every nWoD book has them separating chapters. This is… not new or unusual at all, or in any way a layout challenge.

David J Prokopetz:
A crossover illustration doesn’t mean that the PDF suddenly jumps from singles to spreads when it gets there. It just means you only see half of the illustration at a time when viewing the PDF one-up. If you want to look at the whole thing while reading on a digital display, just turn your tablet sideways and flip your PDF viewer to two-up mode.

Holden:
Yeah. This is about as unusual and alarming as a car with four wheels. :-p

Hakushaku:
I’d be thoroughly disappointed if I paid $100+ for a Deluxe Print Book and got a book optimised for a handheld device.

Holden:
As would about half a million dollars worth of other people, I imagine.


sakii:
can you tell us how it is the change between “i want to learn sorcery” to “i am a sorcerer” story wise.

Vance:
There’s not just one story, so it’s hard to generalize.

Maybe you grew up in the alleys of Nexus, or Wu Jian, or countless other cities across Creation. Poverty, homelessness, and orphanhood marked you as prey for the strong, and whether it was your fists or your wits or your charm that you relied on, it was never enough. And then one day, while wandering the squalid wreck of an ancient temple, in search of food or treasure or a place to spend the night, the ground beneath you crumbled. You fell into an ancient ruin of a bygone age, and found the phylactery of a sorcerer-queen, an egg of brilliant amethyst. You held power in your hand, and teased out the secrets of spellcraft through trial and mishap. You don’t know the word sorcerer, but that doesn’t matter. The hunger pangs, the cruel men, the cold nights will never torment you again. All you lack for now is a purpose.

Maybe you grew up a changeling-child, spirited away from your crib to be raised in a raksha’s great palace of opal and chryselephantine. You thought nothing of reciting sing-song incantations of ancient spells, frolicking through the steps of eldritch rituals, and battening yourself on the souls your faceless father stole from the strange ape-people who huddled in their villages and camps. You grew up a sorcerer, and couldn’t imagine it being otherwise. And then the light of the sun shone in your heart, revealing the truth of what your master was. You smote him down with the very sorcery he had taught you, and ventured forth into Creation to atone for the sins of your childhood folly.

Maybe you came to the Isle of Voices full of pride and ambition, eager to enter the Heptagram and learn the eldritch arts of its sorcerous masters. You memorized alchemical formulae and arcane equations, observed the rituals of workings and summonings with a keen eye, and walked amid the strangeness of the Isle as a peer to the unknown. Your initiation was an instant and an eternity, a moment of satori as all the laws and principles you studied finally came together as something greater, finally clicked like the last lock of a puzzle box. You thought you had understood sorcery before, but as the cosmos unfolded before you, you realized the smallness of all the pride you had once borne.

Or something else!

sakii:
Are we going to have things like that in the core or the future book of sorcery??
Because those fictions always give me better ideas

Vance:
I came up with those off the top of my head, but all of them should be trivially easy to hack out of the corebook.

Part of the goal of sorcery was to make it very, very easy to translate a background story like those into a sorcerous initiation, instead of forcing you to contort your character’s past down a specific path in service of the mechanics.


Scoop Life:
A thing came up in the Blue Rose topic that intrigued me and I figured it might be neat in Exalted too. How hard would it be to have a winged cat as your companion? Like, just a normal cat, but with wings and it can flutter around and stuff. Not super intelligent or super powerful or etc. (Granted flight is a powerful advantage, but you know what I mean. I hope. >_>)

Beatrix:
Fairly easy, maybe not straight out of chargen but it is totally a thing that you can do with the right charms.

Holden:
You could do it at chargen by just taking Familiar •••, no muss no fuss.


SrGrvsaLot:
What level of sorcery does Mother Bog have in 3e?

Vance:
That’s probably something we’ll only find out when we write her.


sakii:
Im havin a problem of perspective here.
If i put Japan or the British Island in the map of Creation how big would they be relative to the other islands in the West??

Wolfwood2:
Maybe like about 1/3 the size of the Caul, I’d say.

Holden:
Hoo, no. The Caul is around half the size of Australia, as memory serves.

Wolfwood2:
Gives a different perspective on the West, doesn’t it?

sakii:
True, i always though that they were islands-cities that you could travel on foot but if all those pieces of land are so big than you can have hundreds of years of conflict without even leaving one island the West is fucking big.

Lea:
I tried really hard to get this across when developing Compasss: West, but don’t think I succeeded. But, yeah, to the extent that some place like Scotland can have hundreds of years of history of land-based culture and not too much focus on the sea, so can any given island in the West.


Shadowlost:
Will we see anymore of Mistress of Mirthless Smile?

Holden:
Probably!


sakii:
I just saw the brochure and Arms, The realm and Dragon Blooded wasnt there. Is it rigth to expect them to be released this year?

Holden:
I try not to tempt the fates these days :-p

But that’s the idea.

icarr757:
I think this is a great idea! However, logic jumped in and has me slightly confused. Please poke any holes in my logic as you will…

Ex3 core still needs to be indexed (no small task)

Holden:
Which is not my job and requires no work from me.

icarr757:
Then it needs to go off to CCP for the big red stamp of approval…

Holden:
Which is not my job and requires no work from me.

icarr757:
Then it comes back and the backer pdf goes out and backers comb thru it for 30 days sending in feedback/glitches they find

Holden:
Which requires some minimal work from me at some point in the future.

icarr757:
I have no doubt the writers can complete Arms and sorcery, and maybe even squeeze out a complete text version for Db by the end of the year. But a completed books with art/layout…? I still have major doubts a finalized Ex3 core pdf will be in backer hands before the end of the year with all that has yet to be completed.

Again, not taking a shot at the writers at all. The writing of these supplemental books may easily be done in their time frame, but transforming a wall of text into a book people want to buy? And the core book is still in layout with not insignificant steps to go before completion?

I am highly skeptical but I would LOVE to be proven wrong!

Holden:
I have no control over whether or not artists flake out and hold a book up by several months. Not my department.


Totentanz:
I own a lot of Exalted books, 1st and 2nd Edition. While I may want the crunch of Ex3, why should I buy books that are primarily fluff, like the Realm book? What is being offered in them that I don’t already have many times over?

Holden:
New plot hooks, different approaches to old material, solid writing, lots of old material that didn’t work very well in the past either re-imagined or pitched out and replaced with totally new stuff. In the case of The Realm and the Dragon-Blooded, heavily reinvigorated Great Houses[1] and a virtually brand-new Blessed Isle[2] are two of the big draws, along with a big chapter on the satrapy system that should help Storytellers represent the Realm beyond the confines of its homeland.

[1] House Iselsi is now scary as all Hell, and I am stoked about the Ledaal shadow crusade.

[2] You remember what was really cool about Ayreon Prefecture back in the day? Yeah, me either.

Totentanz:
Thanks! As a follow-up, are there are any significant improvements in the way you are approaching these fluff books over 1E/2E?

As an example, when I read the setting books from prior editions, most of it is well (enough) written. Some of it is just plain bad, or doesn’t fit, but mostly, it’s fun. However, it gets…tedious after a while. Not everything is Denandsor, or Nexus. Is there an effort to give every province/city/arbitrary geographical designation its own punch, some reason to make me read it and say “Hey, I can do something fun with this!” ?

Holden:
Nah we’re planning to fill the books with at least 50% shitty, uninspired writing with no plot hooks or points of mental engagement. 70% if we can swing it!

Come on man that is not an answerable question lol


abakus:
I’m relatively new to Exalted, but I’m absolutely in love with the vision y’all have put forward for third edition. One thing I’ve had trouble wrapping my head around is what you guys are planning to do with the two splats, Liminals and Getimians. Just with what we know, I’ve had trouble wrapping my head around what themes they’ll be exploring that will differentiate them from and illuminate their counterparts, the Abyssals and the Sidereals. Could you give us more info on how we might use these characters in a game? Will the storytelling chapters have material for what themes these Exalts explore? Thanks!

Holden:
The corebook is fairly light on them both, since they’re not playable yet– you get enough to use them as NPCs. The Liminal Exalted really have absolutely nothing to do with Abyssals aside from being sometimes located in the same neck of the woods, while the Getimians are sort of an inversion of the common themes of Exalted in general and the Sidereals in particular– what do you do when you discover that you had a great and shining destiny ready for you, but now you don’t because someone took it away? Both are character types that are somewhat unhinged from any proper place in the world, and who have to grapple with the question of what to do next.

Solar:
Which is actually something I am interested in… where do the Getimians hang out, mostly? Could they live in Heaven? Would they have to hide their nature entirely?

Vance:
I believe Holden’s mentioned a Getimian who works for the Bureau of Fate. Take that as you will.


Dulahan:
Don’t suppose you’re willing to spoil anything about the two unnamed [Exalt] types yet are you? Even if just a general theme as a teaser? Or a name?

Vance:
They are not neighborly.

Holden:
is it really only two?

well okay, one of them are the R__________________s.


Black Flag:
But to get things somewhat back on track, the idea that the Loom of Fate should preclude free will is another symptom of modern people’s tendency to define “free will” in such an absolutist way as to render it meaningless. The ability to make conscious decisions doesn’t liberate one from causality, and however chaotic it may be, causality follows regular patterns that a preternatural force might to be able to predict. That in no way invalidates the decisions of the individuals involved, which are factored into the prediction. In other words, the Loom is a great image that’s a nice callback to ancient ideas but ought not in any way to suggest that the characters in the game don’t make meaningful decisions.

Lea:
The problem we run into here is we have to produce material our audience will accept.

Black Flag:
Are you implying that your audience will only accept the Loom of Fate as a kind of hard determinism that precludes free will of any sort? That was never the impression I got before.

Lea:
No. I don’t think our audience will accept any of the rarified discussion people are having here. I think our audience will entirely reject engaging with any of the trickier implications of free will vs. determinism.

Like, I remember me and Holden and Neall and Neph inventing samsara. That didn’t work.

Lea:
Samsara was invented to answer the question “Okay, if destiny is ultimately malleable to the point of being decided by Heavenly committees subject to office politics and bribery, and if fate can be overturned with sufficient essence use and in fact just boils down to causality in the sense of ‘If you drop a rock, it is the rock’s fate to fall down because that’s what dropped rocks do,’ but also if the Maidens are subject to some immutable predestination that causes them to act all inscrutible and occasionally pronounce things that must happen and cannot be avoided, then where the hell are the Maidens getting those fell pronouncements? Because it sure can’t be destiny and it sure can’t be fate!”

Didn’t work. Scrap all that; dumb idea. That was me attempting to be so sharp I cut myself. Forget it, irrelevant, move on.

Gayo:
Does 3e have a specific, different solution to this, or will it just leave it uncertain?

Lea:
Shrug.


Black Flag:
Speaking of which, O Devs, are least gods of spoons still a thing?

Holden:
They are not.

Anaximander:
If least gods as in “the least god of this blade of grass” are gone, what’s the cut-off? A field? Any field? Some fields?

Vance:
Field guardians are still a type of god that exist.

The cut-off, OOC, is probably “would it be really really dumb for this thing to have a god?”


Kerredai:
A question for Mr. Vance: how did you handle defense stunts for PCs when you were running God-Kings of Lotus? Did you coordinate them in the OOC thread, just come up with them yourself, something else?

Vance:
It was a long time ago, but I think I’d just hit them up via instant message to get their stunt before writing the post that resolved to attack.

Moving over to Skype improved the quality of combat a gorillion percent


Jürgen Hubert:
As a project manager by profession, I am assuming that Heaven’s approach is something like this:

1. The Bureau of Destiny forms an agenda, which is “Creation must survive”.
2. The predictions of the Loom of Fate give a baseline of what will happen if the Bureau of Destiny does not interfere.
3. A thorough analysis by the Bureau of Destiny spots issues in that baseline which may cause problems for Creation if they are not addressed.
4. The Bureau of Destiny creates a committee consisting of senior members of the Bureau which comes up with an action plan for addressing these issues – complete with monthly Milestones, regular reports, and so forth.
5. The members of the committee may or may not have their own agendas when developing said action plan, prioritizing their own pet concerns over the ultimate goal of the plan.
6. Inevitably, those who created the action plan are not the ones who will actually execute it – instead, the work is palmed off to junior members of the Bureau.
7. Said junior members inevitably discover that (a) the original plan is worthless, as it doesn’t address all sorts of issues that might or might not have been apparent at the beginning, or is too inflexible to adapt to a changing situation, and (b) they have been given insufficient time and resources to implement the entire plan anyway.
8. So the junior members concentrate on the parts of the plan they think are the most important (sometimes doing stuff that was never part of the plan in the first place) and do a half-assed job at best on the other stuff, or else ignore it and hope it will go away.
9. They dutifully write their regular reports, claiming great successes despite unforeseen circumstances making following the original plan difficult, and any problems are the fault of some other office anyway.
10. Suddenly, large numbers of Fair Folk/nephwracks/a Second Circle demon appear, and the junior members of the Bureau are suddenly very busy with field work while the senior members go in full-out warfare mode to figure out which office should be blamed.
11. Somehow having survived yet another five year plan, a new committee meets to discuss the plan for the next five years…

Lea:
This matches my understanding of how things worked in previous editions, albeit, ideally, with less emphasis on farce and more emphasis on “That’s how it works because that’s how real political bureaucracy works, and if it sounds too farcial to you, I’ve got some bad news….”

I’m unsure whether Holden and John have changes in mind that for that bit of Heaven’s working in particular.

Lea:
One of the problems one runs into here is “Politics is like sausage — you don’t want to see how it’s made.” Realistic, even somewhat realistic, even just reasonably consistent portrayals of bureaucratic politics, the sort that don’t fall apart into plot holes when you poke them, have to depict something resembling how bureaucratic politics actually work…

…and “How bureaucratic politics actually works” often reads as infuruiatingly farcial to anyone who isn’t familiar with the process.

We could write bureaucratic politics as not working like that, but we’d have to redesign the entire concept of bureaucratic politics from first principles in order to make it hold together conceptually, and the end result would necessarily have to in no way resemble any sort of politics as actually practiced by any real examples we could draw from for inspiration.

Wuse_Major:
My main problem with it in 1e and 2e was that you couldn’t really interact with it in any meaningful way, except for when it tried to screw you over. It made Heaven into a a place you wanted to avoid at all costs so they couldn’t sucker you into a fixed Audit that stuck you in a mountain for 700 years or, even worse, made you the TPS Report Supervisor. I work at a small engineering firm that employs roughly 20 people and we still spend an annoying amount of time doing paperwork. I do not need even that much paperwork simulation in my pretendy funtime games. Not without some sort of concrete benefit to it anyway.

If the game previously had ways to leverage your position to become a political fixer or methods for getting at the massive stores of information that Heaven has or any one of a hundred other cool things you could do with access to Heaven and a privileged position with the Bureaucracy, I think the Sids might have been much more fun for me. But it always felt like it was more about the TPS reports than fun.

This is one of the things I’m looking forwards to about the new edition. Getting to play Sidereals as James Bond, or at least Bob Howard, instead of Dilbert.

Lea:
More attention could definitely be paid to acknowledging that the infuriating elements of politics necessarily exist, while keeping the spotlight firmly on the interesting, engaging bits.


Overshee:
Question for the devs: Would a Liminal Exalt be more interested in opening or closing a Shadowland?

Holden:
Closing, generally.


Prometheus878:
Will you guys be making more books supporting homebrew after the Exigents book? I’m looking forward to seeing the crazy stuff people will do with your guidance to help them.

Personally I’m toying around with the idea of a Star Wars-alike space opera setting inspired by Heaven’s Reach, except more (ironically) “down to earth,” with a more focused intended play experience and entirely unique Exalt types.

Holden:
I am not really sure what else one could need after Exigents, besides maybe a Storyteller book.

Aretii:
Will Exigents contain guidance for building an Essence-based Charmset a la 2E Infernals, or is that a model of Exaltation that you’ve decided just doesn’t work with 3rd Edition?

Holden:
There will, at the very least, be Essence-based Exigents.

Aretii:
Ooh, what is the primary inspiration of the R__________________s?

Holden:
Oh, that’s easy. The primary basis of inspiration were D_______________.

Aretii:
Out of curiosity, is there one of those in the offing?

Holden:
Maybe!


LordofArcana:
A question for the devs: What is the difference between a sorcerous working and a crafter when it comes to helping people? Would it be clear to a savant that an idyllic village had a major artifact making life easier for them as opposed to benefiting from the actions of a sorcerer?

Vance:
There’s not always a clear, dividing line, and there’s potential for IC confusion and ambiguity. The biggest tip-off that something’s an artifact is that, well, there’s an artifact. It’s a physical thing, made of stuff. Usually that’s gonna be a good sign that it’s an artifact, although it’s not always dispositive.

Isator Levie:
I’m hoping that there’s going to be a consistent sense of the powers of Artifacts making sense as something that would come from some kind of tool or construct, as well as the idea of Artifacts as tools or constructs that would produce effects.

There’s a point at which I feel ideas of making just any random object that projects a generic “good vibes” field or whatever makes the whole sense of Artifacts become so nebulous as to render them disengaging.

Hmm, I hope that sentence makes sense…

Vance:
It does!

An Artifact that benefits a community is probably going to take the form of, say, a jade fountain that flows with clean water that is a panacea for common diseases, or a mighty golem that plows the fields, or a larder that is proofed against all rot and vermin. An auratic sort of blessing is more likely going to be the result of a demesne or manse.

Odd_Canuck:
That does get fuzzy though as somethings can happen through both artifacts and projects… If I wanted a sentient stone bust that I could give to a village to act as the immortal mayor for example, well I could craft that as an artifact or I could do it as a sorcerous project I’d think. Well, unless projects and/or artifacts have been radically reworked since the playtest days.

Vance:
Yeah. Of course, 99.99% of folks in Creation probably aren’t going to know the difference between an artifact and a sorcerous working that’s anchored in a physical object, let alone be able to tell the difference.


Simon Mcglynn:
I’m really curious about Infernals lately. Is there anything you can tell us about them that is changing between 2e and 3e? I get that it’s a long way off but I really like the little I know about 3e infernals. Really I just want to know if the moment of exaltation is gonna be more or less the same.

Holden:
That’s an interesting question, since there was so much ambiguity in 2e about what their Exaltation was supposed to be like.


Nabla:
Speaking of Hell, I do not understand Cecelyne. If she has a blank black sky, does it mean travelers can not see anything? If not, where does the light come from? Is the temperature cold like in a normal desert by night? Also, is everything a infinite erg or are there hamadas too?

Isator Levie:
I thought the sky of Cecylene still contained some bleak, dead stars.

Regardless, I would say that she is a world in which the principle of light being required to see does not apply in the same way.

Holden:
The stars of Hell are demons who read something they ought not have learned within the glass libraries of Orabilis and a a result have been cast into the sky by Orabilis, where they burn away to nothing. So the answer to “does Hell have stars?” is “sometimes.”

Cecelyne, like the rest of Hell, is lit by the mad green glow of Ligier.

Doleco:
Does the Sun set one day, and Ligier rise the next during the journey?

Lea:
Night in Hell is when the Ebon Dragon passes between Ligier and the Demon City.


Leliel:
I like the Fallen Races. However, due to 2e’s pathological fear of shaking the status quo, one of the two kind of got a bum deal.

My point is, what’s going on with Mountain Folk?

Holden:
Mountain Folk are still a loooong way off


Daerim:
Hmm… Ligier, the First and Forsaken Lion and Prince Balor are all placed under a powerful, unbreakable curse that prevents any of them from accomplishing anything (not pertaining to conflict between the three parties) while the other two live (very liberal definition of “live”).

Who is left standing after the dust settles?

Vance:
I feel like this runs into the whole Batman v. Superman preptime thing. Does the First and Forsaken Lion get to raise up an army of war ghosts led by his Deathknights? Does Ligier have time to chill in his workshop and craft the dual-wielded daiklaves Ghostfucker and Rakshafucker? Does Balor lead numberless millions of raksha, monstrous prodigies, and conceptual viruses into play? There’s too many variables!


DrLoveMonkeyMD:
It’s also worth noting that ex3 is OPs longest book yet as well. So if any book is going to smash the proof passes record this one probably will.

Matt.Ceb:
No, it’s not.

Mage20 is confirmed, by an OP employee, to be larger than Ex3.

Holden:
M20 is bigger, but not by a lot.


Lea:
Not speaking as a developer: I would be really surprised if Havesh is ever officially disavowed in a published product, as some people want; I would sort of be equally surprised if he’s ever officially recognized. And equal to both, I would be surprised if we ever work to give any sort of impression that people like him are ineligible for Exaltation.

Holden:
Harmonious Jade makes for a pretty good example of a villain uplifted by the Unconquered Sun because he saw some potential in her to be more than the killing tool of a demon cult. Havesh, by contrast, is a villain who gained the power of Solar Exaltation and promptly used it to be an even bigger villain. I think that in 2015, we don’t need to put a Night Caste whose entire modus operadi can be summed up by “hey, now that I’m a demigod I can murder and rape anybody I want” into the books in order to inject moral ambiguity into the game.

Which is not to say that Solars can’t turn out to be villains– they most assuredly can– but when they put on a RENEGADE 4 LIFE shirt the moment their caste mark lights up for the first time, it’s hard to draw any other conclusion than a) the Unconquered Sun is a moron or b) Exaltation is a complete crapshoot. Neither of those are impressions we want to give.

This also isn’t an edition where we feel the need to trot out every single character or place or thing that was ever mentioned in the game’s publication history just because it was once a thing. I suspect Havesh will remain Sir Not Appearing in This Edition, because the effort needed to make him less of a gruesome cartoon would probably be more productively spent just inventing new characters, and he’s not actually important in any major sense, unlike say Ma-Ha-Suchi, Mnemon, or Raksi.

Holden:
Each of the old Caste Books, by design, has one really scary Solar in there that is supposed to make the reader go “oh, this kind of shit is what Kejak built the Immaculate propaganda of the Forsaken, the Unclean, the Deceivers, etc, around.” That is to say, Havesh was not supposed to be a rogue whose adventures we cheer on even though we know he’s a greedy selfish pissant like Jayne Cobb (and frankly the most likable thing about Jayne was that he was associated with characters the viewer genuinely did like, and had good banter with them). Havesh, like Lyta, is supposed to be pretty horrifying.

Lea:
For those who want the full set, it’s Lyta (textbook ultraviolent genocidal Forsaken), Wind (who’s not awful but he’s a super-preacher dedicated to dismantling the Immaculate Order, so pretty much the Immaculate idea of the Blasphemous), Fehim (because, you know, demon pacting, ergo Unclean), Havesh the Vanisher (pretty Wretched!) and the Mirror Flag rounds it out representing the Deceivers.

I don’t know whether it was intentional or accidental or whatever the way they each represent the Immaculate stereotype of their respective Castes in such different ways, but Havesh does seem to be the worst of them in terms of the reaction he inspires.

Holden:
I think it’s probably more than Havesh brings nothing particularly special or desirable to the table to make him seem complex or interesting, rather than simply revolting.

Isator Levie
:
Okay, Holden, the person I’m asking and the co-developer, has said “Havesh being Exalted makes the Sun look stupid or terrible”, as a criticism. I am asking what makes a person like Lyta appropriate as one of the Solar Exalted while somebody like Havesh apparently undermines the concept.

While I’m at it, I also feel like asking what exactly the difference is between Solars who make the desirable kinds of villains and Havesh “starting out as a villain* and using his new power to become an even worse one”.

What are the standards for an “appropriate” Solar villain that the setting could depict for the sake of giving players ideas?

* Which I find to be a somewhat… troubling read on the idea of an impoverished and desperate young person resorting to crime, but whatever.

Holden:
To the modern reader, Lyta is a psychopath. To plenty of pre-modern (and some few non-Western modern) cultures, Lyta would look plenty heroic– a lot of people in Creation straight up do not have a problem with sacrificing your enemies to curry the favor of the gods. You could tell them, “yes, but Lyta ties Dragon-Blooded to huge bronze mirrors and aims them at the sun, then chants prayers to the deity that empowered her while her captives roast to death,” and as long as Lyta was aligned with the listener’s interest, they would remain politely quiet. They’d still be waiting for you to get to the point. Lyta is a violent extremist, but she is out there waging her own war against the hegemony that murdered her kind and stole the thrones they once occupied, and that fits plenty of definitions of “heroic” in the Age of Sorrows. Maybe the Unconquered Sun felt that the rolls of his Chosen could use a Rorschach or two?

On the other hand, first, Havesh is a villain by pretty much anyone’s rubric. He’s a contract murderer who lives high on the hog and rapes his victims’ wives, then goes on to take on the next contract to murder whoever the hell for whoever’s willing to pay. Second, he’s using his divine might to satisfy the petty feuds and vendettas of the scumbags the Night Caste exist to scourge and regulate. The Zenith equivalent to Havesh would be a prostitute who, once Exalted, decides they can use their newfound superhuman allure to raise their prices and stop worrying about VD, and then calls it a day. He’s not only a blackguard with no real redeeming value, he’s also a waste of an Exaltation.


sakii:
How man spell and workings would the regular mortal sorcerer have??
Whats to much and what is to little?

Vance:
The system does not place any mechanical restrictions on mortal sorcerers with regards to this, although obviously the logic of the setting does.

If you want to play a mortal sorcerer, you’ll be able to begin with four spells out of chargen, albeit at the cost of basically all of your BP. I don’t think that’s representative of what a “novice” sorcerer in Creation would know.

sakii:
Ah, no, im not talking about my characters.
Im walking around and suddently a wild sorcerer lair appears how many spells and workings would that sorcerer have.(I know the storyteller decides but 1 to all terrestrial and 0 to 1000 golems is a big range that im trying to narow)

Vance:
In terms of the workings, the best way to gauge how many it’s sensible for them to have that are applicable to the current situtation is to get a gage of how much time or relevant advantages that sorcerer would have put into creating them. An apprentice geomancer might have successfully animated a stone golem, but having a thousandfold legion of them is just a bit beyond his reach. Conversely, the dread lair of Koschei the Deathless, who hid his life in an egg and has been kicking around since the First Age is going to have basically as many damn workings as the ST says it has.

Holden:
There’s basically no such thing as an “average” sorcerer, or a standard advancement arc for them. They tend to be very unique individuals.


Wuse_Major:
…Also, can you use a Working to do that “remove your heart to become unaging and unkillable” thing or equivalent?

Vance:
You can try!


molikai:
I would comment on ‘The Unconquered sun choosing [who to Exalt]..’
He doesn’t do the choosing. by Design, because if he did the choosing, he could be ordered ‘don’t choose’ by the primordials.

Holden:
That’s a post-hoc justification for certain 2e Infernal Charms.


Matt.Ceb:
The last multiple weeks of “Layout pass #x” semi-updates weren’t really that riveting, to be frank.

Holden:
The highly detailed version, wherein Rich asks Maria to move the text of a sidebar just a smidge to the left so it isn’t so close to the border, and to push this header over to the top of the next column of text so it isn’t sitting there down at the bottom of a column all on its lonesome, and I ask for one sentence to be added to the Sail rules, wouldn’t be much more riveting. We’re at the stage of the “patch notes” where it’s just a wall of “Fixed a bug preventing the correct sound from loading when players summoned their mount in Ironforge” type shit, i.e. unexciting but you’d be really fucking unhappy if we didn’t do it properly.

David J Prokopetz:
The layout artist may come to you and say: “Hey, this section is exactly one line too long to fit neatly on a single page; can you trim it by 8-10 words?”

Holden:
This exact thing has happened several times, most recently with the Lunar portion of the first chapter in the last pass.

Wuse_Major:
…..Could you post the cut line? I get that it probably won’t make any sense and you probably just tightened up the passage anyway so there isn’t an actual “cut line” but, if there is, it would be kind of a fun mini-spoiler.

Holden:
I rarely ever cut, opting instead to re-write for less word use, where at all possible.

David J Prokopetz:
Yeah, in my experience it’s less “cut entire lines” and more “drop a superfluous adjective here, reword a non-critical dependent clause there, and hope that it actually makes a difference with respect to where the line breaks fall once the text has been justified”.

EDIT: Well, to be honest, the first step is usually “comb the entire column hunting for overlooked orphans to kill”.

EDIT2: In the interest of clarity, in layout jargon, an “orphan” is a situation where the last line of a paragraph consisting of three or more lines has only one word on it. They’re considered a minor faux pas in terms of reading flow, so ideally you don’t want to have any – but when it comes to “we need to trim exactly one line” situations, you kind of catch yourself hoping you missed one, because then you can save an entire line by trimming one word.

Holden:
Yep.

Good professional layout: not actually something that just any random idiot could do in a week with no training. Who knew?


Molez:
Is the plan to have a google docs version of the DB book ready for review when it comes to getting that Kickstarted? I feel like that will allay a lot of concerns that people will bring up – and seems to have been positively received on other game lines?

It seems like if we are going to get it published this year, there is probably enough already done for that to be viable?

Holden:
I will never, ever dump a raw-text version of an Exalted book, as I think it seriously harms a Kickstarter’s sales from day 4 onward and produces a shallow pledge tail at the end. That’s bad for a hype-driven fundraising mechanism. I also think raw-text releases for crunch-heavy games tend to feel discouraging and off-putting, and that good layout and art direction are really important for making something as crunchy as Exalted feel approachable and engaging, rather than intimidating.

The plan is to have the DB book well into layout before starting its Kickstarter, though, so we can do lots of “finished” excerpts complete with art and everything, and then release the PDF close on the heels of the KS finishing– the day after it closes, if I had my druthers, although that’s rarely the sort of thing you can guarantee in a hobby where just one artist flaking out can fuck the schedule by two months or more.

Molez:
I guess what I’m asking is – will you be putting out more previews for the DB book than you might for later ones, as a very definitive way of saying – look, this is 99% done, there is lots to get excited about etc.

Holden:
The plan has always been to go pretty heavy on post-corebook previews.


Molez:
Given the large number of posts talking about the leak, which aspect of the system are you most looking forward to people seeing once the leak comes out?

Holden:
AP reports in general. Character construction. As it stands, I can separate the voice of experience from the voice of “I read the thing and I think I know how this will play” with almost perfect accuracy.


Sigilistic:
So John Mørke has been going and previewing martial art styles, giving brief descriptions. He’s mentioned the oldies and goodies, but holy cow, there’s a lot of new ones.

John (as quoted by Sigilistic):
Snake Style, a “soft,” offensive style ideal for assassinations. Signature technique: striking through armor to deliver a fatal blow.

Sky Tamer Style, a “hard” defensive style that requires a bullwhip. Signature jutsu creates a vortex around you, your whip cracking and striking hard enough to shatter bones.

Dark Messiah, a “hard” offensive style using your bare hands to shatter bones and rip through tendons. Signature jutsu is destroying someone’s senses and shattering them with a hundred fists moving through the shroud.

Mantis Style, a style that is both “soft” and “hard”, defensive but primarily offensive. The Mantis signature technique is replying to any attack with a lethal counter attack, hands striking like steel talons.

Black Claw, a style with primarily “soft” defensive technique, and the dreaded jutsu for which it was named, wreathing your hand with caustic black Essence as you rip your target’s heart from his chest.

Prismatic Arrangement of Creation Style, a style that is “hard” and “soft,” defensive and offensive, and requires total mental and physical control of one’s Essence. The legendary jutsu of this style allows you to assume the stances of other supernatural martial arts that you have mastered simultaneously.

Stone Archon Style, a “hard” defensive style that uses soul-twisting koans to defeat an opponent’s mind and spirit, while increasing your physical strength and durability. The signature technique of Stone Archon allows you to enunciate and solve a cosmic riddle that transforms you into a mountainous archon of stone.

Ebon Shadow, a “hard” offensive style that uses stealth and subterfuge in lieu of a defense. Sowing chaos with your opponent’s senses, you strike horrifying blows with sai or fighting chains. Your signature jutsu is a defensive shadow aura that makes you incredibly difficult to strike.

Righteous Devil Style, an unclassified offensive style that utilizes a firewand and your Essence to control the streams of flame that leap from your weapon. The signature technique buffets your foe with the fires of judgment, forcing them to repent or burn.

Heaven’s Ladder Style, a “hard” offensive style that is legendary for using a ladder as a weapon, Heaven’s Ladder is the signature style of the Imperial City Fire Brigade. Its signature techniques involve scaling and leaping from the ladder, using it as a fulcrum, a catapult, a platform, and a clinching tool.

Monkey Style, a “soft” offensive style that emphasizes conservation of force to turn a larger opponent’s strength and momentum against them. The signature jutsu involves punching someone in the balls really hard.

Red Locust Swarm Style, an unclassified offensive style that involves the carrying of and mixing of volatile reagents with one’s own Essence, to hurl caustic bombs and acid bolts. A style made for maiming and killing groups of tightly-packed enemies.

White Reaper, a “hard” offensive style using a war scythe. This battlefield martial art focuses on wide arcing strikes and defense as offense, to slaughter groups of foes in tight formations. Its signature technique is the “Bleeding Crescent Strike” that expends arcs of burning momentum to deliver a critical strike with maximum force.

Ivory Pestle Style, a “soft” defensive style that uses a battle staff and scenery to create a nigh impassable defensive chokepoint. The signature jutsu of Ivory Pestle allows you to hold a closed position like a hallway, rampart, or bridge, launching a shattering counterattack on anyone who tries to move through you or past you.

Single Point Shining Into the Void, the legendary lost style made famous by the loculicidal duelists of the Solar Deliberative. Single Point uses a single-sided reaper daiklave; its characterization as a style that utilizes sheathe-drawing attacks is misleading. It is a “hard” offensive style that emphasizes understanding your blade’s natural rhythm and matching it to unleash strikes of unparalleled speed and fury.

Terrible Ascent Driven Beast, a style made famous by the bureaucrats of the Thousand Scales. Taking a sliver of the Wyld into your heart, you hold the raw chaos within the binding chains of tax codes, border surveys, archaic trade regulations, and hundreds of years of census survey and almanac knowledge. Subsequently, you are able to bind someone’s Essence and cripple their nervous system with citations and recitations of weaponized bureaucratic lore and bludgeoning with really heavy tax ledgers. The signature technique of Terrible Ascent Driven Beast is transformation into the Efficacious Wind-Borne Auditor, a phantasmal effigy of yourself that moves like the wind, can run on air and pass through walls.

Border of Kaleidoscopic Logic, a Sidereal martial art classified as “soft” and offensive, utilizing Essence understanding and reality-encoding mantras to merge with your opponent’s existence and alter it. The signature jutsu of this style forces your opponent to live his entire life backwards to the moment of birth. Outwardly, this takes only a few seconds. Internally, they experience this in real time.

Silver-Voiced Nightingale Style, a “hard” and “soft” offensive style that utilizes musical (sonic) weaponry, primarily your voice, to debilitate a target and end a fight before it starts. Used as a “hard” style, the voice can be shaped to blow a heavy oak door to flinders, put cracks in a stone wall, and bring down rotten or loose tonnage on the heads of your enemies. Used “soft” it can paralyze, stun, and disorient. The signature technique allows you to strike a foe with your voice like a solid fist.

Thunder on the Final Precipice Style, a “hard” offensive style that utilizes a familiar hunting hawk or other prey bird and fighting claws as a means of attack. The practitioner can cast his soul and his very senses into the prey bird, infusing its talons and beak with steel-hard Essence and making it strike like a heavy ballista, while borrowing its speed, accuracy, and incredible eyesight for launching his own attacks. The signature technique, “Ghosts on the Empty Steppe” allows you to perfectly counter one of your opponent’s Charms for the rest of the scene.

Graceful Hummingbird Style, a “soft” defensive style that uses a fencing blade to parry, stun, and disable attackers, emphasizing deterrence and minimizing wasted energy. Its signature technique involves striking someone the moment they attack, completely shattering their momentum before the fight begins.

Steel Devil Style, a “hard” offensive style that utilizes a blade wielded in each hand, Steel Devil emphasizes striking inside the line of your opponent’s attack with one blade while attacking their body with the other. Its signature technique unleashes a flurry of repeating strikes that continues to deliver sequential attacks with each successful blow.

Dreaming Pearl Courtesan, a fighting style popularized by courtiers and consorts in southern polities, where a member of the royal seraglio is just as likely to be a spy, assassin, and bodyguard. Dreaming Pearl is both a “soft” and “hard” style with offensive and defensive emphasis. It uses an eclectic blend of courtesan’s tools, including folding war fans, razor-lined sleeves and skirt-hems, sinuous dancing motions, and even one’s own hair to attack. The signature jutsu of Dreaming Pearl Courtesan transforms you into a massive flying carp dragon.

Tiger Style, one of the most famous and deadly of all fighting styles, Tiger is a “hard” offensive style that uses baghnakhs or fingers hardened to the strength of iron, to claw through joints, tendons and sinnew, and stiff punches and kicks to shatter bones. Tiger Style’s signature technique is being able to fight on the ground equally well as standing up; once an opponent’s leg is broken or back is injured, that is often where the fight goes.

Violet Bier of Sorrows, a style known to few. It is named after the symbology of the department of Saturn (the Maiden of Endings) in the Bureau of Destiny, and her constellations dwell within its astrological schema. Violet Bier of Sorrows is “soft” when it is on the offense, deflecting, evading, and countering with telling, crippling strikes; it is “hard” on the defense, disrupting a foe’s attacks with blows to their joints or torso by striking within the arc of their strikes. The typical practice involves a short slashing blade for offensive strikes, and a heavy cudgel for defensive strikes. The signature technique of this style is the “Metal Storm.” Sensing a crippled foe’s moment of defeat, you make it real, launching a volley of strikes impossibly from every direction.

Obsidian Chains of Torment, a style associated with executioners and gladiators hailing from the shadowlands. It is a “hard” and “soft” offensive style that exclusively uses a chain scythe with a huge sickle blade at one end and a heavy weight at the other. The signature technique of Obsidian Chains of Torment whirls the blade of the chain scythe with terrifying speed while advancing, forcing the attacker to flee–or if they rush their attack, to be surprised by a clashing blow from the weighted end of the weapon before being sliced in half as the sickle makes its next pass.

Hungry Ghost Style, a “soft” offensive style that uses baghnakhs but is wholly unlike Tiger Style in that it emphasizes passing around an opponent’s attacks at close range, dancing into their periphery and flowing around the arcs of their motion while slashing at vital areas with your claws and trying to drive them off balance. The signature technique of Hungry Tiger draws the life force from a heavily bleeding opponent to fuel the speed and power of your killing blow.

Crane Style, a “soft” defensive style common to vartabeds of the Near East. Crane uses war fans and graceful flowing movements to confuse an opponent and draw them into committing into extended attacks only to find that you have dodged at the last moment and delivered a bruising counter. A Crane stylist wears down her opponent with her defensive, punishing stances. Her signature jutsu is a counterattack that infuses her counterattack with incredible force when she retaliates against someone who has attacked her previously.

Charcoal March of Spiders, a “hard” offensive Sidereal martial art that involves honing your Essence into fine steel hard threads that can easily cut through stones. Casting these deadly wires out like a web, you make it nearly impossible to approach or evade as the fight progresses. Once you have crippled and trapped your opponent, you can strike them with the signature attack, Water Spider Bite, which allows you to rip out your target’s soul and devour it.
I am very much looking forward to a MA book.

Fire Dragon style, a “hard” offensive style that primarily uses your natural weapons (fists, feet, knees, elbows) to intercept an attacker’s blows with strikes of your own. It is a fast, aggressive style, whose signature jutsu involves igniting the Essence that lives at the end of your fist in devouring fireballs that explode on contact with your hapless foe’s torso.

Water Dragon Style, a “soft” defensive style that uses the Essence of water to accentuate your movements, allowing you to flow gracefully and fluidly away from and around your enemy’s strikes, while coming back at them with twice the force. Its signature jutsu involves shaping channels of water around you into punishing extensions of your normal attacks, extending your range with battering bolts of fast-moving liquid.

Earth Dragon Style, a “hard” defensive style that involves hardening your body by taking dozens to hundreds of strikes a day in training, and learning to hone your physical Essence in places of Earth aspected power, such as mountains, quarries, and so on. The signature jutsu of Earth Dragon allows you to channel the earth around you into your attacks, hammering your foe with walls of solid rock.

Wood Dragon Style, a “hard” defensive and offensive style that involves moving into your target’s periphery and forcing them to make unsteady attacks, attacking them when they are off-center, and holding your ground like an unmoving tree when they try to attack you. The signature jutsu of this style allows you to merge your Essence with the plant life around you, calling snarling roots from the ground to bind and slash at your opponents.

Air Dragon Style, a “soft” offensive style that uses winding, twisting motions and speed to turn your opponent’s own strength against him, stealing his momentum and putting him off balance for your own fast, punishing strikes. The signature Jutsu of Air Dragon allows you to command gusts of wind to accompany your strikes, throwing your opponents off balance with gale force upon landing an attack.

Quicksilver Limbus Style, a “hard” offensive assassination style that involves honing the Essence around your hands until they can slice through wood and softer stones (not to mention flesh, muscle, sinew, etc). Your lightning fast slash attacks eventually engender an ability to hurl your Essence like a dart, or to throw precise and incredibly fast throwing knives. The signature jutsu involves harnessing your Essence into a caustic silver streak that you hurl into a foe’s eyes, temporarily blinding them and making it impossible to dodge your flurry of thrown blades.

Savage Witch Style, a style used by those hardened, wizened old ancients who live on the Steppes on the edge of the Wyld in the Near North. It is an unclassified offensive style that uses the growth of a long, carnivorous beard as its main method of attack. Users of Savage Witch are known to have bestial claws on their hands and feet, run on air, and release swarms of flesh-eating one-eyed bats from their beards. The horrifying signature technique of Savage Witch is when the beard splits open into a giant, many-toothed maw and slams shut like an iron maiden around an opponent, devouring them completely.

Dread Cyclone Style, a “hard” offensive style that attacks almost exclusively with kicks. Dread Cyclone is heavily practiced on the southern and eastern shores of the Realm, where practitioners are said to be able to land kicks at any time, from any angle. The kick techniques allow even smaller framed women to use their momentum and body weight to land crushing leg attacks on much larger foes. The signature jutsu is the eponymous Dread Cyclone, in which you stun a foe with a shattering kick and then leap into the air, twisting leg over leg with a flurry of alternating kicks with the force of a compact hurricane.

Blood Riot Style, a “hard” offensive style used to train assassins in the lawless southern city states along the Diamond Road. The training in this style is brutal, infusing the killing techniques and methods deep into your mind and soul, burying it within your blood. Blood Riot uses wrist razors to slash and score opponents. It is an aggressive, fast style, but its signature jutsu involves releasing a vial of your own volatile blood, alchemically treated to release a scent that unlocks the full extent of your buried training. This transforms you physically, making your skin harder, your teeth sharper. Your fingernails become steel hard claws, and you move like the wind and fight blindly, slashing at a target that has been hit with your Riot Blood until they are dead or you are.

Dancing Golem Style, a style used in the jungle riverlands of the Southeast, named after the great war god statues of Zek’e. Dancing Golem is a brutal “hard” offensive style that uses the knees and elbows primarily to break an opponent’s arms and legs as they try to attack. It can also deliver shattering punches and kicks, though these are seen as tools to stun or finish an opponent. The signature jutsu is an Essence-infused flying knee that can topple a war god.

Serpent’s Tongue Style, used primarily by bandit clans in the highlands of the Blessed Isle, is an unclassified offensive style that uses a rope dart to fight at multiple ranges. Up close, the rope is used to snare limbs in order to throw or batter opponents while they are off balance. The rope dart is typically laced with a poison distilled from the practitioner’s blood and Essence by an alchemist who knows the trick of making it into a toxin that painfully inhibits Dragon-Blooded Essence. Stylists also put this poison on the spiked gauntlets they wear, and generally use a loose assembly of armor to protect their shoulders, knees, elbows, heel, and hands, coinciding with the body weapons they tend to strike with.

Cloud-Binding Focus Style, a style practiced traditionally by members of the Imperial Legion, this is an offensive style that is both hard and soft, and can be practiced with heavy armor. It complements styles such as Wind-Cutting Blade and the much more rare Single Point Shining Into the Void, but itself is an unarmed style emphasizing capturing your opponent’s limbs and hurling them to the ground. Tossing an armored opponent to the ground can leave them mortally injured before a weapon is even drawn to dispatch them. In addition to meeting and channeling an opponent’s force into brutal throws, Cloud-Binding Focus has a series of straight-line striking techniques for disrupting a number of attacks and breaking out of grapples. The signature jutsu is a perfect counter that absorbs the power of an incoming attack, increasing your strength tenfold as you bodily lift and slam your opponent into the ground.

Cobra Style, a style that derives much of its technique from Snake style and Crane style, it is a “hard” offensive style, with some defensive techniques that mirror Crane. Cobra stylists use short blades with a reverse grip, pointed down like the fangs of a viper. Their signature jutsu is the False Crane Posture, a neutral defensive stance that conceals their true movement, allowing them to strike an opponent’s vital centers with a lightning-fast poisoned Essence strike.

Throne Shadow Style, a traditionally unarmed “soft” defensive style that allows you to channel your martial talents through a number of subordinates, allowing them to move and strike in perfect synchronization as your weapons. This is its signature technique.

Citrine Poxes of Contagion, a Sidereal martial art that fashions your Essence into a virulent strain of unforeseen maladies that wreak havoc with your foe’s physical and spiritual immunities. The signature jutsu is a horrific withering strike that does damage to the soul and flesh and scars the opponent into their next lifetime.

Surging Fist Style, a style that is falling out of use on the Blessed Isle due to the rise of Cloud-Binding Focus. Surging Fist is a “hard” offensive style that teaches the user to harness his Essence in one place, allowing him to flash across short distances at the speed of light and deliver critical blows. Dragon-Blooded mostly consider this a showy circus style, unfit for the battlefield, though a few Exalted practitioners are working to revive it as a legitimate battlefield style. In any case, it uses no weapons or armor and relies on crushing kicks, straight punches, and uses very few roundhouse or spinning motions to generate momentum, forcing stylists to hone their Essence and rely on it for greater attack force. The signature technique of Surging Fist is opening the opponent with a flashing stunning strike that empowers the stylist to make an additional crushing attack instantly.

Wind-Cutting Blade, a “hard” offensive style famous in the Realm. It relies on use of the reaper daiklave, and features many telltale techniques that involve sheathing and drawing the blade at supersonic speeds. Wind-Cutting Blade is considered to be one of the most dangerous and impressive martial arts in the Realm. Few know that it is a somewhat weaker derivative of Single Point Shining Into the Void, a style that is almost unknown in RY 768. The signature jutsu of the Wind-Cutting Blade is to flash past an opponent, delivering a strike before they can react, and sheathing your blade to unleash the killing force of the attack upon their body a moment later.

Holden:
he’s assigning people MA styles upon request on Facebook, and ran out of published canon styles a while back lol

Holden:
This is someone fucking about to amuse himself on his personal Facebook feed, not a preview of upcoming material or a promotional thing. So…

Vance:
I am solidly convinced that Heaven’s Ladder is bad ass, although I think the direction I took it towards the capstone is misguided in hindsight.


Anu:
Which Martial Arts styles would you recommend for a Sorcerer?

Holden:
Tiger style + Wood Dragon’s Claw is a fearsome thing

Wuse_Major:
Hey Holden, which spells are included in the Core?

Holden:
Well, Wood Dragon’s Claw is there.

digitalronin:
Is Incomparable Body Arsenal there as well?

Holden:
It is definitely my view that there ain’t no party like an Incomparable Body Arsenal party.


Wuse_Major:
The other thing to remember about Exalted is that people didn’t quite appreciate the level of design needed to make Exalted’s system work properly for what they wanted it to do. It’s like trying to build a CCG that plays like Duel Monsters does on the Yu-Gi-Oh cartoons, instead of in real life*, layered on top of a fighting game, a wargame, a dating sim, minecraft, and a couple of other things. The system either needed to be pared back and made explicitly “oh, just give it your best guess” like Mage, or it actually needs this sort of complex iterative design where people can actually try stuff, break it, try other stuff, break that, until they get it right.

Given the number of different types of situations Exalted is ostensibly supposed to be able to handle, I’d say that, in theory, it probably has to be the most inherently complicated generic system on the market. I mean, to properly allow all of the five Solar Castes to really shine at what they do and keep the whole CCG thing, you have to build a system that can handle pretty much anything and then mix in a CCG on top of it. None of the other generic systems I’m aware of do that (I’ll grant that you could do it in GURPS and their magic system already kinda does it, but the magic system isn’t as extensive as the Charms of the Exalted need to be, given the setting.)

To do Exalted right, you either need to rework the whole charm tree thing and do something simpler and more controllable (I could see Exalted working well with a good core system that lets you do everything from Archery to War pretty well, and the Exalted getting inherent dice adders and other bonuses, possibly with Vampire style power cascades) or, well, it’s gonna take awhile.

*In the cartoons, everyone gets the exact cards they need to play these awesome combos when they really need to. If you tried to pull off some of those combos in real life, you’d get hammered to death waiting for that one card you need to pull this off. Which is kinda why I don’t really play Magic anymore.

Holden:
Yes. Our objectives included “everything the system does, it does well,” and “everything it does can support robust Charm interaction,” because we didn’t want another edition where the No Moon has an anemic Charm set because thinky-stuff is barely supported, or social stuff is barely supported, or whatever. So after trying to design the best cinematic combat system ever made and the best social engine ever made (whether we succeeded, we will leave up to the player’s judgment, but it’s what we were gunning for), we then had to design fun naval combat, tactical warfare, medicine and disease and poisons, crime and investigation, crack the RPG Holy Grail of non-shitty grappling, a kung-fu subsystem, sorcery, a sorcerous working subsystem that lets you do whatever you can imagine while still remaining granular and balanced, a new equipment subsystem, a magic item subsystem, and oh yeah, design the first set of crafting rules in the hobby’s history that don’t either totally sideline you or just amount to “input resource, receive thing.” And then lock Charms onto all that stuff. And then figure out how to streamline all of it so that it doesn’t kill Storytellers. While future-proofing against the 10+ corebook-complexity-level supplements we know are going to lock onto the top of all this stuff later on.

It turns out that takes a bit longer than the six months that were originally budgeted to get the project out the door, setting aside multiple life-threatening health issues and whatnot.

Solar:
I don’t think anyone has questioned the amount of work that’s gone into the project at any point.

Holden:
“I could put something together to take care of that in a weekend” has been presented to me as the commentary on things we wrestled with for 3-4 months or more, many times.

Dulahan:
I feel like the difference with Exalted, and why we have so many… angry opinions (to put it mildly) is how much closer the game sounded when we backed it, combined with just how much money people put into it.

I mean seriously, I put in like $120 and when I saw some data somewhere, I was below the MEDIAN pledge! A lot of people dumped a lot of money into this kickstarter – and to be frank, were I not unemployed at the time of the KS, I’d probably have dumped more in. Which compared to even some infamous Kickstarters that have been going longer since the pledge does make a big difference.

Money brings out the worst in people, and the more involved, the angrier they might feel.

Holden:
Imagine for a moment a world wherein RPG creators were actually paid, let’s say, the minimum wage of the state of Utah ($7 per full hour) for their labor, and only counting entire hours spent actively working on the project. I can reasonably expect that due to the fact that I do not live in that world, this project will put me in the hole– not generating earnings, but rather personal revenue loss– to the tune of $70,000. That’s, again, hypothesizing a world wherein what I do is no more valuable than asking if you want fries with that. In the world I live in, it’s a lot closer to making sweatshop Nikes in Uganda.

So while I am sympathetic to the outlook of “I spent my money, I wantz my book!” please keep in mind that the more time we spend ensuring this is a quality product, the more we– I, personally– lose on the thing, whereas you are presently going to get your book for what you paid for it, even though the production and shipping prices have gone up during the production cycle. And the book will be awesome.


Colin Fredericks:
How can I help?

Holden:
Run a game for your friends when the corebook drops.

Monkipi:
I’m considering trying to record my preludes and maybe first session with some high quality audio equipment when the book drops. Would spreading that kind of content be kosher or encouraged?

Holden:
Encouraged!


Anu:
Here’s another question: Can I barter with Madame Marthesine for Sorcerous initiation?
Follow-up question: If the answer is yes, what would that kind of Sorcery look like?

Holden:
Sounds cool to me. I would suspect she’d give you someone else’s power that they bartered away to her long ago! What might a person be able to offer her for such a mighty boon, though?


Aretii:
Probably been answered already, but how many Solar Charms (not counting MA/evocations) are there in the Ex3 Core? How does that number compare to Ex2?

Holden:
About three times as many as in EX2.


El_phantasmo:
Dragon Kings – Are there still only going to be the 4 species (Raptok, Mosok, Anklok and Pterok) or could there be a 5th type? I know the Pterok were the Northern ones, but any normal reptilian would suffer in the cold climes and always thought a more stocky type would suit better? Even a non-dino type or hybrid with the wooly mammoths/rhinos?

Holden:
Don’t really have any plans at the moment to introduce the oft fan-requested Brontok or to mess with the current 4. I should also note that nearly 0 thought has gone into the DKs at this point, they’re something that won’t get addressed for several years.


HoratioAtTheBridge:
Aren’t mospids basically archaeopteryxes?

Lea:
It’s raitons that are archeopterixes, being roughly raven-sized and occupying a roughly equivalent position in Creation’s common mythology as ravens do on Earth. Mospids are the same sort of “toothed bird”/”feathered dinosaur” animal, but are larger and more useful for falconry-type hunting and being combat-capable familiars. I don’t recall whether they correspond to any particular real fossil animal, but given the real gaps in the fossil record and the real morphological variance within any given animal type in real Earth history, it is almost certain that “Someing like an an archeopterix, but bigger and higher on the food chain” has been a real animal at some point.

taleswapper:
Ahhh, I’ve always been fond of Quetzalcoatlus. There’s a marvelous life-sized replica skeleton hanging from the ceiling at a museum in Dallas. The room it’s in is bi-level, so you can see it from the ground or go upstairs to confront the thing at eye-level. It’s really quite impressive. Though I can understand the desire for something more like the mythical figure.

Lea:
Quetzalcoatlus northropi is goddamned terrifying.

HoratioAtTheBridge:
How does something that big fly???

Lea:
“Powerful wing muscles,” basically.

Pterosaurs have an advantage over birds in that when birds launch themselves into the air, they do it with their hind legs, but when they fly, they fly with their wings. This means the amount of power they can put into liftoff is limited by the muscles of their hind legs, but more muscled hind legs increase their weight without adding to the lifting power of their wings. Pterosaurs ain’t havin’ any of that shit. They push off with their arms, and fly with their arms.

The other thing to keep in mind about the largest azhdarchids is that we’re pretty sure their hunting method is, first they fly around looking for prey, and then when they find it, they land near it and charge it and attack it with the big pointy beak. So imagine that thing loping at you along the ground with its giant weird skinny-ass “animated skeleton” gait, aiming to spear you.

El_phantasmo:
Which is basically brown trousers time.

Worse – they might have been pack\flock hunters?

Even more horrific? If that thing screeches\screams whilst loping its way towards you.

Meep!

Lea:
As Holden has said, Phorusrhacidae may have been the terror bird, but Quetzalcoatlus northropi is the pants-shitting terror bird.

Blaque:
If I remember right the ecological niche these things had was not much unlike that of a crane or a heron. Just you know, instead of frogs or fish it was dinosaurs and other archosaurs as large as humans.

Lea:
I distinctly remember reading that they were thought to be skim-feeders for a while, but recent evidence suggests they wouldn’t be able to fly that close to the water without getting pulled into it when they scoop with their beaks. So they were land predators that ran down their prey, using their flight to cover large distances, spot prey from far away, and quickly approach to charge position.

(Also, I’m pretty sure one of those things running at you would look bigger than a T-rex.)

Prometheus878:
Hm. Well, I hope that Tyrant Lizards are twice as big as regular T-rex in this edition, because quite frankly I don’t feel comfortable with T-rex getting upstaged by a bunch of big birds. (really big, terrifying birds, but still. It’s T-rex, man.)

Lea:
Oh, the T-rex is still bigger by mass. I’m sure it’d win in a fight against a Q-north (ugh, sorry). Just, you know, if you want to think about “Just how scary is a big azhdarchid?” keep in mind how big it looks when it’s rushing you.


Notsteve:
Does Creation have winged snakes?

Isator Levie:
Ixcoatli has the image of winged snakes as its emblem.

Given that they’re a society built on a union between snake- and raitonfolk, I hope this means that the symbol is adopted for the image of unity rather than because it’s an actual thing.

Icarus1138:
Given that this is Exalted, I’d hope that the political symbol was chosen based on the prophecy of the great future king that will be the first successful offspring of Serpent and Raiton. That child’s birth and Exaltation as an Air Aspect should set up a good story or two. Make him/her an albino serpent-raitonfolk for either a Cortez analogue or notice that winter is coming.

Lea:
The raitonfolk and serpentfolk occupy separate societal casts; mingling is Not Done. Children displaying traits of both are often killed at birth to save the parents shame, if the parents are high-status; those that grow up face bigotry. A bird-snake-person is actually not a big deal, save to the (great) extent that social roles within Ixcoatli make him or her one.

You could have a suppressed messianic prophecy about an albino bird-snake-person who rises from low birth to lead the nation to new greatness, though.


Prometheus878:
Will Wavecleaver daiklaves be making a return appearance at some point? If not in the core, perhaps in the first Different Skies book?

Holden:
Probably never coming back as a highlighted independent class of daiklaves because there just isn’t much point. You might see a particular wavecleaver at some point, as a weapon specifically designed for pirate-fighting.


Dulahan:
Any chance of a cover preview, especially if the proof doesn’t get CCP approval on the first go around? Or even while we wait?

Holden:
I haven’t even seen that yet. I do, however, have a shiny new Revision 7 proof sitting in my inbox this morning.

icarr757:
Argh! You tease!

Toy with our emotions some more! How many pages?!? Or if that is giving to much info, is it more or less bullet stopping than M20?

Holden:
666 pages. Not kidding.

Tyrrell:
Is this the same draft that has been sent to CCP for approval?

Holden:
Yep!


sakii:
1)Is making poisons craft or medicine

Vance:
I think making poisons would be governed by Craft, at least in the game I’m running, if only because the crafting system handles that well.

Medicine, on the other hand, would let you know which of your stockpiled herbs and elixers become poisons rather than cures at a certain dosage.

sakii:
2)Do we have things to make special effects poisons instead of just X damage in time

Vance:
Thousand Venoms Mistress would be very sad if there weren’t.


Sigrid Hex:
Speaking of which, how is John doing? Haven’t seen him post much around here lately.

El_phantasmo:
Indeed. All good and did the medical bills get covered/significantly assisted with?

Holden:
Well, it’s a good-bad-good news thing.

John is getting better, but has been quite ill recently. The good news is that the scariest of the things they warned him about when they removed the lymph node– like facial paralysis– never happened. What did happen was that since the lymph node’s removal, he developed sleep apnea, and it’s been getting steadily worse. For those unfamiliar with it, sleep apnea is the result of one of several conditions that cause you to stop breathing in your sleep, so that you bolt awake gasping for breath as your body emergency-reboots your breathing cycle. A very mild case might have you waking up a couple times a night a few times a week.

John went from “a few times every night” to “35+ interruptions per hour, nearly every time he tried to sleep.” If you’re wondering how a person gets any sleep when he wakes up every two minutes, the answer is basically “he can’t.” After trying every kind of non-medical-bill-oriented solution under the sun, John finally went to the doctor. The good news is, they had a solution. The bad news is, the solution was dreadfully expensive.

After getting to the point where driving became dangerous and he’d gotten 3 hours of sleep spread across 4 days, he finally bit the bullet and went through all the expensive rigamarole to get a CPAP machine to regulate his breathing, toting up a bill he can’t afford to pay. He’s running a GoFundMe campaign to try to get help paying it off currently*.

The other good news is that the machine seems to be working. So thank fuck for that.

*For those wondering why the government isn’t insuring him: John lives in Florida, which is a red state. The Florida State Legislature refused to accept federal funding earmarked for the Affordable Care Act in a fit of childish pique. Meaning that in this state, if your income is below a certain threshold, you are not eligible for government-funded health insurance, because that part of the funding isn’t there, because the state won’t take it. John is too poor to qualify for the health insurance act designed to insure poor people. Ain’t American politics grand?

PirateBrd:
Donated immediately. I’m glad to see a good chunk of money has been raised already; I hope the machine fixes everything.

Holden:
Heartfelt thanks, to you and everyone else who did.


Wuse_Major:
…Apparently earlier was correct. They not only already heard back from CCP, but the turnaround was quick enough that they’re practically ready to resubmit the files for review again.

“Ex 3 core book – RichT here: Maria is sending me her corrected PDF pages tonight. We’ll need to resubmit them to CCP, as per their request, but the changes were consistent style and format concerns mostly. We will also be awaiting the Page XX page numbers from the Devs for Maria to input, which Holden realized it was time to do before sending the backer PDF out.”

….Actually, Holden, can you give us some input on what exactly goes into the giving of the Page XX stuff?

Holden:
It’s just a mind-numbingly tedious process of looking up every XX reference and documenting where it should go.

Wuse_Major:
Hey Holden, I’m curious to know how many page XX references there are in the corebook. I’m not trying to sneakily pump you for a rough deadline or anything, honest! I’ve just started to wonder, in a book that big and, presumably, with a fair amount of cross linked info, how many of those references there are. If you’d rather say something like “It averages about X per page” or whatever, I’m good. I just got to wondering.

Holden:
Hundreds, especially in Chapters Four and Five.


Matt.Ceb:
I’m kinda baffled at the cover art artist /bailing/ from the assignment that late into the process…

Holden:
Not the first time it’s happened on this project, either. My favorite was the guy who spent three months half-responding to art correction requests on sections where precision was important, then just dropped entirely with 10 art pieces 2/3rds done and had to be replaced.

Plus side, the replacement artist’s stuff looks way better.

This is a general problem when working with a lot of new talent. Try out 10 new artists, you are nearly guaranteed at least one flake.

Vargen:
Ooh, new artists! Neat! Though with a work of this size I guess you’d need to find new artists just to get it the thing finished.

Are there any new EX3 artists you’d recommend checking out while we wait for the book?

Holden:
We stopped advertising which artists we’re using because it results in crazy people emailing them.


Manaran:
So, awesome devs, can you tell me anything cool about the North? With the PDF release in sight I have to start planning our next campaign, and we’ve fairly extensively explored the East, the Scavenger Lands, and the South. Thinking stag horned fair folk and viking raids will feature prominently, but was wondering if there was anything you’d like to share?

Holden:
I think the North and the West are competing for “most improved Direction” in 3e. West has the most dramatic overhauls, North has the greatest profusion of really, really fucking cool new locales. Things like Mongolian Transylvania, a giant underground prison long ago taken over by its inmates, and a city where the nobility are rumored to have come into possession of an elixir of immortality. (Surely this is unrelated to why said nobles now go about under parasols during the day, and why the tame lynxes of the palace hiss and slink away when they approach.)


DrLoveMonkeyMD:
There’s a discussion on the official exalted forums on whether or not DB animas actually are physical expressions of that element, like fire aspect animas are actually fire or just red flamey light. Different sources seem to contradict one another, what’s ex3 say about it?

Holden:
In prior editions, only Fire Aspects generated actual literal fire, via their anima power. (Even then, it didn’t burn their possessions, so, magical fire.)

That said, a person getting their face torn to shreds by a Wood Aspect’s anima may find the question of whether these are “actual physical thorns” or just “green thorny light” kinda academic. They won’t stop a Dragon-Blood from squeezing through a tight doorway, in any event.


Anu:
Can thaumaturgy handle items that would usually be considered magical, but don’t qualify as artifacts for one reason or another? I feel like outfitting an army with arrowheads of frozen lightning.

Vance:
I suspect the magical items created by a thaumaturge would be more along the lines of, say, the famed Seven Lighting Arrows of Yusef Solomon than the kind of thing you arm battalions of lightning archers with. The scale of the latter seems more the province of a working.


You can find the next compilation here:
Q&A Summary #16

“Ask the Developers” Thread Summary, Post #14

Here’s another update to our lengthening list of summaries from the Exalted developers’ Q&A thread on RPG.net.

Links to previous threads:
Q&A Summary #1
Q&A Summary #2
Q&A Summary #3
Q&A Summary #4
Q&A Summary #5
Q&A Summary #6
Q&A Summary #7
Q&A Summary #8
Q&A Summary #9
Q&A Summary #10
Q&A Summary #11
Q&A Summary #12
Q&A Summary #13


Argent:
I´m interested in the Familiar background (or Merit now, right?)!

Can you have something like the Brass Leviathan as a Familiar?

Something like the lumbering Colossi in Shadow of the…?

A Mouse of the Sun?

A Dune-esque sandworm? (Who is not necessarily names Snuffles, but also not necessarily not named Snuffles.)

Holden:
Generally I would not classify behemoths or enormous First Age war machines as animals, or even magical animals.

Isator Levie:
Somebody remind me; does the Brass Leviathan (as distinct from the dragon imprisoned in it) possess enough agency to even qualify as a character?

Lea:
I always assumed it’d be boring if it didn’t? It probably doesn’t possess the same agency as the water spirit bound into it, though.


James Yakura:
Sounds like we need to ask some more questions to get the devs back in here.

Name of favorite new Charm?

Holden:
Drifting Leaf Elusion!

James Yakura:
Favorite new/revised subsystem?

Holden:
Combat. Runner-up: Sorcerous workings. Second runner-up: Social influence.


danelsan:
1) Which Direction has the most new locations mentioned in the core book?

Holden:
Southeast. As far as “core” Directions go, probably the North.

danelsan:
Oh, does that mean there will be specific sections or at least portions of the text specifically describing locations for the all “diagonal” Directions?

Holden:
Not so much the Northwest, since the description there would be “glub glub.”

danelsan:
2) So, the UCS is a mostly forgotten god. Can the same be said to any extent about Luna and the Maidens?

Holden:
Largely, yes, though moreso for the Maidens than Luna.

danelsan:
3) There are a lot of unusual animals in Creation. From prehistoric stuff to outright fantastic creatures. Are there any exotic animals that are really popular as pets in some large region of Creation?

Vance:
Raitons would make pretty exotic pets by our standards, what with them being dinosaurs.


Faelan:
I have some questions about sorcery, specifically mortal use of sorcery in 3E:

1. It has been mentioned that mortal sorcerers are “rare”; by this do you mean as rare as Exalted, or more like 1 in 10,000 or so (which I think still makes them many times more numerous than even Dragon-Bloods)

2. Do mortals need the assistance of an Exalted in order to learn sorcery? Or are there purely mortal “orders” of sorcerers out in the Threshold (I’m assuming such groups would be discovered and wiped out in the Realm, if they’re even possible)?

John:
1. Mortal sorcerers are super rare. Of the few mortals who can become sorcerers, many of them never realize it. We’re not going to give a solid number of active sorcerers who were mortal, but it’s very small.

2. They do not. An Exalt can help a mortal who is capable learn sorcery. Re: Orders of sorcerers: Not really. There just aren’t enough. Re: The Realm had a scaling policy toward mortal sorcerers in the time of the Empress. It may have changed. We’ll be talking about this in The Realm.

AtG:
Isn’t this a change from 2E, where (unless I misunderstand) everyone could at least in theory learn sorcery?

And are there more or fewer mortal sorcerers than DB sorcerers?

John:
It is indeed a change from 2e. Every mortal in Creation cannot learn sorcery, nor do thaumaturgic rituals.

As for your second question: Probably fewer.

wheloc:
What’s the limiting factor? Is it just a matter of not being competent enough (like the brain surgeon analogy above), or is there some essential element that sorcerers have and regular folks don’t?

John:
The limiting factor is narrative. The books will explain fully.

Charles Gray:
So how big a deal is a mortal sorcerer? “heads a dangerous cult” level or “The Sorcerer Queen of an entire city state that she rules by arcane arts?”

John:
“Mortal sorcerer” is not a weight or a value, neither is “Solar Exalted.” So these kinds of questions misapprehend the circumstances at hand.

There have been mortal sorcerers who have run nations, but you hardly need arcane arts to do that. There are many mortal rulers living in Creation who use money, religion, and military force in order to rule, and a sorcerer—any sorcerer—who overlooks those things is no ruler.

Kath:
In regards to the bolded text [“Every mortal in Creation cannot learn sorcery, nor do thaumaturgic rituals“], does this mean that thaumaturgy is not a big of a part in the setting anymore? If so, why has it been reduced?

I really like mortal thaumaturgy as a background element which meant that everyone knew something ‘magic’ from an OOC point of view, but to them it was utterly normal (kinda like Glorantha, where everyone knows a few magic tricks to help with day-to-day life). It adds nicely to the high magic feel of the setting. I’d be nice to know why you think cutting back on mortal thaumaturgy improves the setting.

John:
Magic has been given a complete overhaul. The new narrative profile of sorcery doesn’t work if everyone in the setting can do it.

Kath:
I was wondering about thaumaturgy, not sorcery. Thaumaturgy and sorcery are only similar from an out-of-game perspective that calls them both ‘magic’, but in-character, the two operate on fundamentally different principles. The only similarity is that sorcery can do some of the things thaumaturgy can, and can do them about 10000000% more effectively. From an IC perspective, they’re as similar as Martial Arts Charms and punching someone in the face.

John:
You are absolutely correct, but EX3 wasn’t developed backwards from the mechanics to the setting. Everything that falls under the header of “sorcerer” has been made to fit the the “narrative profile” of sorcery, or the way sorcery is depicted in the text. The profile of sorcery is to be strange, powerful, unnatural, unnerving, and rare, because it can’t be any of those other things if it is common. In the eyes of the Developer, a thaumaturge is a kind of sorcerer.

Kath:
Can the average mortal in Creation still learn and perform minor magical rituals, aka what second edition called thaumaturgy?

John:
No, they can’t.

Kath:
If not, how does this change make the setting better to play in?

John:
I assume you are asking why this is a preferable state as a whole, rather than “why would I want to play a mortal?” There’s a lot of reasons, starting with the thaumaturge. It makes her a much more interesting personality, because she is unique. She might be her tribe’s shaman, her village elder, or the witch at the end of the lane. But because she has unique and special powers, she occupies a niche that can’t be filled by just anyone with a manual. And because thaumaturgy isn’t a necessary subset of occult rating, sorcerers might actually find some use in thaumaturgists. That’s because thaumaturgists sometimes possess unique tricks that only they can do. So, for the first part, it makes the thaumaturgist more interesting and unique and valuable to the setting as a whole.

From a broader perspective, it makes magic stronger and more emphatic, because magic isn’t everywhere and in everything. When you open a door, it isn’t a magical communication between the knob god and the hinge spirit, the way it was purported to be in Second Edition. Natural law exists, and the ubiquitous nature of Essence is taken to be a physical phenomenon, not an overtly magical one. So, channeling Essence, for those who can channel it, is not inherently magical. “Sorcery” is a step beyond that; a movement into the uncanny, and a drifting of normal narratives. If I am a Solar, you would not expect me to cast Death of Obsidian Butterflies, yet as a sorcerer, that is within my wheelhouse. The more common strange displays of magic become, the less sorcery is anything but a mechanical differentiation, a label that otherwise means nothing.

Delgarde:
So your position would generally be that thaumaturgy is therefore much, much rarer in the setting than in previous editions – and hence viewed as more special and exotic instead of being commonplace. But since PCs are pretty much special-by-definition, I assume that it’s not hard for a player of a mortal character to justify being one of those rare people who know some of those unique tricks?

Vance:
The freedom enjoyed by the player while creating their character is pretty immense. If you wanna play a thaumaturge, you play a thaumaturge.

This is obviously not a model of the actual truth-in-fact of the setting that John’s described.


Prometheus878:
Tell us about the Cinder Isles!

John:
The Cinder Coast is a hotbed for religious and political theater, where the Realm has only limited projection.


Zeea:
Does 3e have any new sword-and-sorcery content or gaming possibilities that weren’t explicitly mentioned in the older editions?

I realize that’s a bit of an odd question. What I mean is that while you could always put magitech stuff in Exalted from the very beginning, theoretically, later in 1e and especially 2e we started seeing more and more specific ideas to help out GMs who wanted to run magitech genre stuff.

Since 3e is going another direction, I’m wondering if there will be more locations, NPCs, advice sections, and so forth to help those of us GMs who want to run more sword-and-sorcery but aren’t already brimming with knowledge of the genre. I like the idea of sword-and-sorcery, but I’ve only ever read a little Conan and some short story anthologies (and early Discworld) and I’m not great at improvising it without a little inspiration.

John:
This is a very complex question, which is why I took my time responding to it. Mostly, I had to take time to think about whether planned material actually would convey the essence of the genre. I think they will, through tone and through fiction, but also through an emphasis on atavistic gods, a stronger positioning of sorcerers, and a much higher prominence of old ruins and forgotten menace. Creation is a strange, dangerous, and predatorial place for a newborn Exalt. Growing mighty and conquering the unfathomable and nigh limitless forces measured against you is yet possible.

It will be a setting that lays out its mysteries and invites you to solve them; a setting that is rich with occult throwbacks and wicked spirits and horrendous, ancient forces. There will be guideposts on how to deal with those things, in fiction and in history, and in the Charm set, but I think ultimately any ST who takes the material and makes it their own will be doing pulp fantasy of their own just by osmosis.


Kapten:
1) If a solar has zero combat charms, how capable is he if he gets attacked by mortals? Would he need to fear, say, two regular guardsmen? The same really goes for a solar with no social defenses, would he be in danger if he starts talking with a socially focused dragonblood?

2) How dangerous is the non- wyld hunt world to a newly exalted solar? How many of them dies due to mortals/fair folk/low grade gods etc?

I ask because I found the invincible solars of the previous games to be frustrating as GM. If it would be possible to challenge new solars without bringing every exalt in a given direction within reach of the PCs that would make me happy 🙂

Vance:
There’s lots of fun ways for the Storyteller to challenge Solars.

Approaching it from a mindset of “how many charms are needed to totally negate all danger from a certain venue” is not gonna be super helpful.


Brian888:
On a completely random note, when it comes to crafting Artifacts, we usually think of them as being permanent objects. Daiklaves, armor, manses, etc. Could crafting be used to create high-level powerful stuff that ISN’T so permanent? For some reason, I’m really drawn to a “God of Cooking” idea for a Solar, a Solar chef whose creations are so mind-blowing that they rival Artifacts in terms of power (if not permanence). Is this just completely goofy, or is it something that the game could permit?

Vance:
This is pretty much an “ask your Storyteller” question.

John:
An Artifact is a god-forged wonder of the First Age. It comes of imparting the inchoate with reality, and parting the mists of time to reach some impossible distance; to imagine the unimaginable. These are the narrative of Artifacts. It’s reflected in the name—Artifact—the hard evidence of a First Age whose occult remnants are of such complex design and untold genius that they make the sorcerous wonders of RY 768 look feeble in comparison.

The question boils down to whether there’s a sandwich equal to Excalibur.

Yes, there is, but only in a Kevin Smith movie.

Brian888:
Or in classical mythology. Nectar and ambrosia, after all, were the food of the gods and granted immortality.

John:
Neither of those things got its power from the preparation, though, and neither of those things makes you the ruler of Camelot, grants you the power of Thor, etc. A cup of celestial wine can grant immortality, but an Artifact can give you the power to rule Creation. Even then, you’re dealing with the consumption of things that are tremendously rare and powerful. You aren’t going to find a sandwich in Creation that gives you the powers of the Daiklave of Conquest, because that’s dumb.

SrGrvsaLot:
I think you’re being unnecessarily dismissive. Of course “exalted cooking” sounds silly if you reduce cookery to its silliest possible manifestation.

John:
I don’t reduce it to its silliest possible manifestation. Unfortunately it’s my job to listen to people’s ideas, so I’ve heard it a few dozen times. You think I pulled magic sandwich out of my ass, but alas I did not.

SrGrvsaLot:
By this logic, we might as well eliminate performance charms, because an Exalt that sways the hearts of multitudes with a limerick is dumb.

John:
A moving song is not an Artifact. A beautiful poem is not an artifact. And food that makes you feel good is also not an Artifact. I am responding to the thirtieth request to equate the roll that makes food exquisite with the system that lets you forge Islebreaker. Yes, we do have Performance Charms to influence emotion, conjure up memories or rewrite them, and do a number of other things, but we also draw a distinction between music and Artifacts, just like we draw distinctions between cooking and building a daiklave.

That said, I’d like to conclude that it’d be great if you didn’t jump into this thread and disrupt it with a lot of disingenuous nonsense. It’s disingenuous because you didn’t read what I was responding to; it’s nonsense because music is one of those things every fantasy tradition in literature agrees has power. Even in Exalted, it has power—the makers of Creation were tremendous musicians. If you want to run a game where Creation was baked though, go ahead, but this ain’t Burger Time and I don’t care if you think that’s dismissive, because what’s dismissive to you is just factual to me, and whatever facts don’t fit your pet ideas are naturally going to dismiss them.

SrGrvsaLot:
It’s obvious that there wouldn’t be a “sandwich of power” in Creation,

John:
It’s really not obvious to some people. I’ve seen the exact idea put forth and used. Also in this very thread someone asked if the chef concept could be equated with the Artifact crafter concept. I’ve seen people desire to play vegan Vampires, too. Nothing is really obvious to some people until you point it out to them.

SrGrvsaLot:
but what about a confectioner whose cherry cordials unleash a patron’s dark desires?

John:
Sounds like a stunt or a custom Charm.

SrGrvsaLot:
Or a mother whose home-made soup is so wholesome it can miraculously cure the sick and heal the wounded?

John:
I don’t think Creation should have potion crafters cranking out healing in a bottle and don’t see how this is different.

SrGrvsaLot:
What about banquets so delicious, all other food, forever after, is bland and unsatisfying?

John:
This actually happens without magic. It’s called Chipotle.

SrGrvsaLot:
And that’s not to mention that something like celestial wine requires a certain degree of specialized craft to make.

John:
Yeah, but it requires those peaches. That’s kind of important. Because in every other case, you’re dealing ostensibly with nothing at all that’s magical. Peaches of immortality and Zarlath honey are not actually the products of good cooking, but try to make Zarlath tinctures or celestial wine without them.

Holden:
This generally sounds like Fair Folk and spirit mojo, not so much crafting an artifact souffle.

A Solar can prepare a banquet so exquisite that princes will fight over his services, but that just means that ultimately that just boils down to an amazingly satisfying meal, not one that fans your passions or restores health levels. That sort of thing is probably in the wheelhouse of a Solar who has really hardcore specialized as a chef, but at the outside, that would be custom Craft Charms, not artifacts.

SrGrvsaLot:
The difference between something like cooking and what you are apparently defining as “artifacts” is not one of epic tone, but of the ephemeral versus the permanent.

John:
Yes, a meal is intrinsically ephemeral, but so is a song or a kiss, and it would be absurd to say that there is no place for the fantastic in them.

Holden:
You can’t craft an artifact kiss or song, either, generally speaking.

Beatrix:
Okay, any of y’all watch Chef’s Table? It’s all about some of the major important working chefs. The first episode opens with footage of an earthquake – me and the friends I watched it with all went ‘wait, did we cue the right thing? did I fuck up?’ – then wheels of cheese languishing in broken and busted cellars. It opened like this because the chef featured had heard about that calamity, had realised it would destroy the economy associated with the cheese (and possibly the life of the cheeses in the sense of the cultures used and so on, if those producers went bankrupt). So he created a simple recipe that used the cheese, began publicising it using his enormous talent and reputation, and thus saved parmesan reggiano and the producers, by making this recipe popular.

If you cannot bump that up to Exalted without ‘BUT THE CHEESE IS MAGIC’ then I feel like you’re missing a point. You barely have to change a thing to make that story Exalted, to make a chef capable of changing the face of Creation, using cheese. You certainly don’t need to mangle the place of artefacts within the game to make a chef an amazing character with an incredible narrative, all about the food they’ve made and their epic skill in making food. In Exalted terms that chef would have saved a region, saved lives and an economy, not just from damage but from the Wyld because if a region loses it’s economy in Creation what happens? There are no friendly countries offering financial aid. There are predators waiting on the sidelines to strip the flesh from their bones though.

So after watching this, we all said “Massimo Battura is a goddamn solar”.

John:
Beatrix gets it. A region could literally fall into the Wyld if trade were demolished, especially after a loss of life. Using a recipe to stave off disaster is absolutely in the Solar wheelhouse. No magic cheese dinner needed. Just the profound understanding of cooking and ingredients on a level that he could develop a recipe easy enough for everyone to follow.


Kath:
Assuming that the Realm is still as Artifact-heavy as in previous editions, I have a question:

How does that tally with the fact that the average group of Solars will have half a dozen extra artifact weapons and armour after their first encounter with a group of Dragonblooded? I’m not sure how a GM is meant to keep artifacts feeling super-special-rare-awesome if one of the default opponents for the the basic PC splat comes loaded down with at least a couple of artifacts each.

John:
When I was a baby, I had a teddy bear, and it was the best bear. It had powers. It could keep the devils away. I still think about it sometimes. And I am not sure, given my history, that the bear didn’t have powers—if only because there was very little else that could get me to sleep when I was burning with fever, or when the things in the shadows came crawling and whispering my name.

Artifacts are a lot like that—they exist in a narrative lens between “real” and “imagined” power. As products of the First Age—which is an uncanny rather than defined space in Third Edition—they are also uncanny, in that they can be “just a really amazing sword (bear)” when you aren’t telling a story about them; power comes from the character’s imagination. When you are, then they can do literally whatever you need them to do.

That said, “How do I make multiple Artifacts awesome?” is secondary to “How do I make the Dragon-Blooded carrying them awesome?” As with anything in the entire game, if you try to tell every story at once, smoke is going to pour out of your ears, and your story will probably fall apart. In the interest of helping you along, though, we have Evocations—powers which help to differentiate Artifacts from one another. These should be seen as a Storytelling aid, not the limit of an Artifact’s power.


Sunder the Gold:
How do Sorcerous spells approach or touch upon healing wounds or curing ailments? Sorcery has done everything else, in the past.

Holden:
I wouldn’t expect to really see Cure Light Wounds or direct equivalents in sorcery, though you might see broader or stranger health-encouraging effects.


Saint Caveman:
Hey guys, I remember reading somewhere that one of the maidens (mars, I wanna say) told sidereals to leave Lookshy alone, is that still going to be a thing? If so what’s the game rationale behind it?

Holden:
That’s probably not going to stick around.


Brian888:
I think the cooking stuff has been asked and answered.

Anyway, moving down my list of “Awesome Things Wulin Does that I Hope Exalted 3E Also Does,” one of the Secret Arts in Wulin is Predictionism. Basically, you’re a classical, learned Chinese scholar who can impose facts on the whole world. In-game, this means that you’ve studied a situation, applied your awesome learning and analytical capabilities, and predicted that something will happen. For example, based on your knowledge and study of regional economics, trade patterns, political unrest, etc., you predict that the Northern Crane clan is doomed. Mechanically, this makes it easier for people to attack or undermine that clan, and harder for people to defend that clan.

Is that something that Solars can do, through Sorcery or otherwise? Is that more of a Sidereal schtick, if anything?

Holden:
You will enjoy 3e Solar Lore.


Aquillion:
Belatedly, though (since this is actually something I was wondering about earlier): The problem there is just making cranking out a generic cure-all as a common thing, right?

I assume Medicine can be used to produce tinctures, salves, potions and so on as a treatment for certain more specific medical problems. I mean, that’s something people have done throughout history in the real world without even needing any magic, so I assume that even a mortal healer in Creation can diagnose someone, then use a Medicine roll to produce a salve or other consumable to treat certain specific ailments. And while in some cases this might just be a stunt on a medicine roll, I’d assume a master of medicine (even a purely mortal one) could do things like eg. provide the appropriate salve or tincture for a specific ailment just based on a description of the symptoms, without having to meet the patient; or produce a large amount of it when a particular ailment is widespread.

Obviously this depends on what you’re trying to treat, and I’d assume that actual panaceas are the providence of rare and powerful magic — you can brew a tincture to help with a fever, but you can’t brew a salve of heal-broken-leg or something. Still, even if games like D&D take it too far, something akin to “healing in a bottle” is something with both a lot of mythological heft and extensive real-world history, so I’d expect it to be a major part of Exalted’s medicine system. (And, well, given the providence of the term panacea it’s obviously in-theme somewhere for the setting, even if it’s something that only a particular powerful god can make as a boon or something.)

(Amusing fact that I came across recently related to this: Nostradamus, before he was famous as a prophet, was famous for… well, I’ll quote his Wikipedia article: “After his expulsion, Nostredame continued working, presumably still as an apothecary, and became famous for creating a “rose pill” that supposedly protected against the plague.” My favorite part of that entire article is that the very next section says, near the beginning, “In 1534 his wife and children died, presumably from the plague.” But this was the kind of thing that people at least believed in throughout history, and some of the herbal medicines they discovered were a bit more effective than that. People have been trying to produce healing in a bottle throughout history with varying degrees of success.)

What I mean is — Creation has apothecaries, right? They make stuff like tinctures you can drink if you’re suffering from a headache rather than generic D&D healing potions you drink to restore health levels, but are they in-theme? Is it reasonable to play as one using Solar Medicine, with dispensing strange potions, herbs, salves, and poisons being your main thing? Would that fall under Medicine, Craft, or Occult?

Vance:
You could do it with just Medicine, but there’s something in sorcery that fits that character concept so well I gotta include Occult.

John:
This is a very complex and interesting question.

Let’s consider Solar Medicine for a moment: It allows you to compensate for lack of medicines or tools. It also allows a lot of narrative flex in how you apply treatment. Your treatment could involve feeding someone soup, although the Craft-based quality of that soup is not necessarily where the healing comes from. You can apply unguents and other medicinal treatments as a part of your stunt. The “method” is important, but the specifics of that method will vary from player to player. It is your Essence and your talent that makes the treatment supernaturally effective. Essence, being a resource that renews much faster than health levels, means that Solars can influence health regain at a rate determined by Essence return by way of Charm cost. They don’t actually need magical stimulants or rare expensive drugs.

Conversely, rare expensive drugs and miracle medicines have their application limited by availability and effectiveness. The difficulty of obtaining such things and their generally lower effectiveness combine to keep Solar Medicine as the most effective healing option. If magic from outside Medicine can take an everyday product like soup and make it a tremendous miracle healing whomp, then it needs to be weaker or less viable, so as not to replace the viability of Solar Essence with the viability of soup. Moreover, Solar Charms want you to interact directly with other characters. They want you to treat a patient directly for the most powerful benefit, not make a healing balm that can deliver the healing of a Solar Charm from third person.

So yes, there are apothecaries, healing unguents, and so on, but they vary in effectiveness. A mortal legendary doctor needs all of these things and the best facilities to produce results that are best case scenario for a mortal patient. They almost never have some way of completely removing a disease or healing an injury without invoking a spirit or calling on a demon for aid. A Solar doctor is a miracle worker, ten times more effective without appearing to use any kind of magical aid, just straight up medical knowledge and efficacious procedure.

Knowing how to make medicine and which medicines to use falls firmly under Medicine and Lore. Knowing how to harvest medicinal herbs and where to look for them requires Survival, and that knowledge can be enhanced by Lore. Lore represents knowledge and understanding, but not necessarily practical experience. Lore can tell you what X looks like, and where to find it. Survival can also represent that specific knowledge, but also entails the actual ability to seek it out and find it more skillfully and accurately. Lore represents knowledge of “magical” medicines as well, but Lore again represents solid theory. You really want to use Medicine to mix up medicines, and you were correct in your analysis that you need Medicine to figure out which is the best one to use. So while Medicine represents medical lore, and Survival represents Survival lore, both of these depend on some amount of direct practice or exposure to the things you are working with. Lore itself is a kind of amplifier for every knowledge base there is (within reason), allowing you to encompass things you’ve only come across in books, or in theory.

Occult and Craft don’t have any natural facility for healing people, but can be bent to the task through strange means.


Irked:
Suggests sort of a weird swing point, doesn’t it? If I and ten tiger warriors jump my archenemy, we kill him, because that’s ten terrifying hard-core dudes, and we run them as individuals. If I and thirty tiger warriors jump him, we lose, because that’s a battle group.

Or, I mean, adjust numbers appropriately – but that’s the complicating factor with “diminishing returns”-style battle groups, right?

Holden:
EX3 doesn’t allow that discretion. If you have three or more similar guys who aren’t story-important figures or DB-caliber supernatural badasses, they’re a battle group. In-character actions acknowledging this mechanical abstraction are explicitly against how the game’s played, and are something the Storyteller is instructed to shoot down.


Gaius of Xor:
1) I recall some implication that Lunars will no longer be Stewards. If so, what new nickname do you have in mind?
2) It’s been mentioned that Liminals are also known as the Chernozem, but what sobriquet will Getimians get?
3) What is a sobriquet for a splat you’ve not yet named for us?

John:
We’re doing away with most of the sobriquets, actually. Most of them felt compulsory.


Nicias:
What kind of alliances would you see between Getimian and Lunar interests? Put another way, which in maybe important ways is a different question, what overlap is there between Rakan Thulio’s war against Heaven and that of the Lunars?

John:
This is something we’re very interested in discussing when we’re closer to having those books out. The difficulty in discussing it now is because both Lunars and Getimians will experience some shift between now and then. But just for fun, let’s take a look at a friend’s player character Lunar concept for EX3. She does not represent every Lunar, but it should be interesting.

She is one of those Lunars who is consistently lashing out against Realm interests, but she is a very introverted, solitary type, and draws peace from roaming empty tracks of Creation and being alone with nature. She wants to rely on her own strength and wits to outmaneuver the Sidereals and their Dragon-Blooded assassins. There are other supernatural beings she might draw into her war, but its against her disposition to ask for favors from beings who are in her weight class. She has no problem using mortal pawns or agents, particularly those who have a legitimate beef with the Realm, because they walk the road she’s on already. Her first inclination, not knowing anything about Getimians, is distrust, or simple disregard, as if it were another Exigent. But if she sees one being pursued by Sidereals and confounding his pursuers with his magic, she might be intrigued. If he survives his encounter without help, she might let him leave her territory in one piece. There is a definite hierarchy of socialization and while he is in her “zone of pursued prey” they can’t really be friends. She has no real reason to try to draw him into her plot. In all likelihood, he disappears off the radar. But say he returns, announcing himself and gaining an audience in a properly submissive way—in deference to her territory and her tremendous killing power—then she will be more inclined to cooperate, if only to hide him or use him as bait.

There’s not a way (yet) to speak for the Lunars or Getimians in general. But we’re getting there. 🙂


Isator Levie:
I’ve never really had a good handle myself on how much of a spirit’s power in its panoply was supposed to be treating those things as Artifacts and how much was just an expression of their powers distinct from how the Exalted (of the time) did it.

It’s like, you’ve got Talespinner with his flute (which can be transferred or stolen, even while being written as Charms) and Octavian with his acorn (that was a gift and has to be replaced if it is broken), and you’ve also got, say… what’s her name, the Eastern hunting goddess with a jade whistle made from her predecessor.

Are there many examples of existing gods known to have Artifacts distinct from their own power?

Vance:
Ahlat’s write-up includes some Charms that are notionally Evocations of his spear Bloodspike and his bow Glad-of-War.

rikalous:
Interesting. Can critters other than the gods associated with them develop Evocations for godly weapons?

Vance:
This is something that hasn’t been nailed down yet, I think. I would expect to see more on that as we see more about gods and various other types of magical beings later in the line.


Dulahan:
Ooh! Thought, earlier in this thread or somewhere, I read a concept of a Solar using Ride to hang out on his Yeddim and travel creation. What level Familiar would a Yeddim be?

Vance:
Two dots seems about right.


Prometheus878:
Here’s a setting question:

What’s the diversity range of human-to-animal features for beastmen? Do they all have to be really beastlike, such as dudes with parrot-heads and wing-arms? Or can you have folks that are more like the Thundercats (classic or modern) in appearance? Is that too far into the Lunars’ wheelhouse?

I ask because I have an idea for marginalized beastmen nomads who are shunned by both humans and “true” beastmen, because they’re too close to either end of the spectrum for either group to accept them.

Vance:
I imagine you could get a pretty wide range of variation after a few generations of interbreeding.


Isator Levie:
I wonder if when we get down to it, is “beastfolk” not more likely to be a cultural and political designation than a significantly biological one?

Vance:
Having feathered wings that you can use to fly is a bit more than a cultural difference.

On the other hand, the Empire of Itzcoatl’s cultural and political identities revolve around beast-heritage. There may also be beastfolk whose bloodline has become more human-like over the generations, or beastfolk whose anatomy is small enough of a difference from the human norm that it would largely be a social construct.

Isator Levie:
I meant distinction from other mutated humans.

…. I think.

Vance:
I don’t think Yasi Iril, who quested into the Wyld to discover her true name and face according to the shamanic traditions of her tribe and came back winged with glory, is gonna mistaken for a hawkwoman. A mutant is probably going to have an easier time passing as a beastperson that baseline humans and vice versa, but that’s still going to involve exploiting others’ ignorance and maybe some disguise.

Isator Levie:
Is there going to be any idea like the Autochthonian Polar Mutants having the logical drawbacks of their adaptations represented in terms of a points-balance kind of thing?

Vance:
They would go the way of Flaws, which I think have been discussed already.

Isator Levie:
Okay, but is an assumption of flaws going to be inherent to at least certain kinds of mutant?

Vance:
The Autochthonian polar mutants were sort of unique in being presented as sub-races with a balanced template of mutations—most of the time, I expect a Storyteller’s just gonna slap wings on a gorilla and let physics weep. If there is a group of mutants homogenous enough to template, a Flaw could be included, and if you want to play a mutated character whose mutation has drawbacks, you can do that.

Man, I feel like I’ve been talking like Ex-Men.


Gaius of Xor:
I’ve recently been reading a Secret of Mana Let’s Play, and it’s put me in the mood for a character with a white dragon mount, able to be summoned by a little handheld drum, the dragon’s favored toy in childhood. I am delighted that other answers leave me confident I’ll be able to do all or most of this straight out of chargen. ^_^ So, my questions are
A) If the dragon lacks any significant means of attack, how many dots of Familiar would it likely need?
and
B) How much is this particular character likely to love Survival Charms?

Vance:
[B] Like a dog loves bacon.


Prometheus878:
I just realized something…

If Creation is flat, then how are smart/wealthy people going to have globes to show how learned/fancy they are?! o_O

Lea:
Very elaborately carved tabletops.


sakii:
How are the disguise charms going to work??
In all the editions medicin had the “this is not Lay Hand and heal” clause, you were using herbs, chicken soup or fixing a missing limb with a sharp stone, but disguise was described as essence enveloping you and changing your looks. His this still the case or the charms are going to start needing some makeup and clothes to work?

Vance:
Legendary spies in most fiction are presumptively using mundane disguises, but achieve the impossible. Crazy face masks in Mission Impossible are the first thing that come to mind. Keep that in mind.

A Solar con man getting into his disguise is going to be using the same skills he used before Exaltation. Props, make-up, changing body posture, whatever method fit their style. But now he’s a demigod, affirming his achievements with Essence. Everything builds on that set of skills—it’s not an illusion, or shapeshifting, or telepathic projection, not that it makes much of a difference to the rubes he’s suckering with his Flawlessly Impenetrable Disguise.


sakii:
sorcery questions
1) The thing that Mirri Maz Duur did to Drogo in game of thrones, would it be a spell or a working?? Because it feels working like but it only took one nigth to cast.

Vance:
I think Mirri would be represented as a thaumaturge, rather than a sorcerer.

sakii:
3) Making love potions and things like that, would it be craft or working?

Vance:
This is more a ST/table call than something I can just definitely pin down.


Arian Dynas:
Are the Five Trials of Sorcery still a thing? If so, how do they work and figure into the setting? Are they the effects in part of the Salinan Working?

Vance:
Lea’s written eloquently about the narrative purpose of the Five Trials. Once we cracked how sorcerous initiations should work in Ex3, it became pretty clear that they could do all that and more.

That said, if you want to play a sorcerer who initiated by undergoing the Five Trials, guided by the Salinian Working, you can totally do that.

Arian Dynas:
Given that thaumaturgy is mostly focused around singular miracle-workers now. and sorcery has a defined role, and I’m assuming Occult has some say in this, what would a cult of mortal men and women who sacrifice the blood of virgins to dark powers, taking on their youthfulness as immortality and eternal juvenescence be? Thaumaturges? Sorcerers? Occultists?

Vance:
Off the top of my head their youthfulness would be a sorcerous working performed by their dark patrons. Having a cult of ordinary mortals trained in Occult and offering up blood sacrifices is an example of the kind of thing that makes your workings easier to complete.

Arian Dynas:
What about a hag who lives in the far swamps, practicing strange alchemy? What if her love tonics actually work?

An old woman who reads tea-leaves, knows many auguries and consults her orrery?

Vance:
Sound like archetypal thaumaturges.

Arian Dynas:
Or a village shaman, who fasts for three days to prove his holiness, before burying himself in a cloud of hallucinogens to seek answers from the Gods? What does he do if he wishes to ask the spirits of the stars to intercede with the gods of war for the sake of his people?

Vance:
You don’t need to be a thaumaturge to be a priest or a shaman. But you could be!

Arian Dynas:
Sweet, so it’s still an option; I do like the Five Trials, although, can you give us some specifics on the Salinan Working and what it’s like in 3E? You guys mentioned it was behind held up as the high end example of what Sorcerous Workings could do, and really all I know about it from other editions even is that Salina and the greatest sorcerers of her age… embedded sorcery into the world, somehow, so that the knowledge of things like the Adamant Circle could never be lost, and that spirits were involved somehow?

Vance:
It’s not something that’s directly touched on in the chapter on sorcery, but I think it’ll click as soon as one reads the sorcerous working system.


sakii:
i was checking the new projects in the onyx path page and found this: “Exploring the Age of Sorrows: Essays on the World of Exalted”, never heard of this.
What is it?

Lea:
One of the stretch goals the KS hit. Book of essays by Exalted creators about the creative process behind it.


Odie:
Hm! I wonder. I wonder if there are rules for dysentery in 3rd edition?

Vance:
I think so, but I don’t recall my full list of diseases of the top of my head.


Gaius of Xor:
Per my usual preface: This may be too mechanical, or give away more than you’d presently like, but hey!

Some time ago, you teased the gist of the new Eclipse anima power for being taught the powers of other supernatural beings.* From those entities in the corebook, what are some of your favorite powers that Eclipses are able to learn?

* Only powers specially identified as such, not Charms of the Exalted, etc.

Vance:
I’m a fan of Prismatic Sea-Spoor Streamers and the garda bird’s Immolating Pyre.


sakii:
so, a sorcerer has the power to give your closest retainer rage laser beams or something like that with a working. But how are those powers modeled??
would that be a merit??

Vance:
It could be any of a broad number of things, based on what the sorcerer’s player is going for and how she and the Storyteller work out that representation. Sure, it could be a Merit—Merits are great for random powers and stuff. But it doesn’t have to be. Sorcerous workings aren’t about boxing you in to certain mechanical choices, but letting you work your will on the world and then bending mechanics to serve your purpose.


Anu:
I’ve got a sudden urge to play Ouyang Feng, most likely as a Sidereal.

Can you tell us if there are snakes or other venomous animals that can be used as familiars in the corebook? Or maybe Wood Elementals?

Vance:
Yup, it’s got snakes.

And if you go super hard into Solar Survival, you might have a tiger whose fangs drip with venom, or a siege lizard whose tail spikes inject all sorts of deadly stuff on contact.

Wuse_Major:
I’ve been thinking about doing a Haltan Air Aspect Scavenger Lord and I’d like to give her a small, clever familiar, but not go with any thing usual, like a monkey, squirrel, or ferret. I’m considering a raccoon, but I was wondering if there was anything a bit more esoteric in the Core Book that might fit the bill? Like in the “Simhata, Omen Dog, Raiton” category of more or less normal animals that don’t exist on modern Earth, sort of thing.

Vance:
Would a tanystropheus work?

Wuse_Major:
…I was thinking something more pocket sized actually.

Vance:
I guess you could fit an ichneumon hunter in a pocket, but that might not be the best idea.


Bersagliere Gonzo:
According to the Monday Meeting updates some of the upcoming books are already in the first or even second draft phase (Arms, DB, etc.). So is it possible that the writing team might be already working on Exigents?

Holden:
There are a few words written for Exigents already, but that’s just me working ahead. No outline has been done and nobody’s been hired yet.


old hat:
I really only have one question about Exalted 3rd edition.

I spent a pile of money on a pile of books for 1st edition because I loved the setting and it all seemed so cool. I tried mightily to run it without success. Everyone got tired of struggling against the system very quickly. I spent an even bigger pile of money on an even bigger pile of books for 2nd edition including a big pile of hardbacks. I have never used any of it.

Why buy into another edition of Exalted?

Holden:
That’s a good question, and the first one we asked when we started laying the groundwork for EX3. I mean, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to come to the end of EX2 and then turn around and buy all those books for a third time in a row. I’ll break down the answer into setting and system.

On the setting side of things, the new edition is a significant departure from EX2. Stylistically, we’re trying to steer things back to the tone and content-delivery of Scavenger Sons, with punchy bits of world-building rather than the exhaustive drill-into-every-named-map-dot approach of the 2e Compass books. As for the setting itself– this is a re-imagined Creation, rather than a re-presented one. If you remember and love something from prior editions, it’s probably still there, but Creation’s about half again as big as it used to be, with a number of new locales and elements. The Southeast has gone from “savannah I guess” to being an enormous region of far-flung and exotic empires scattered along the shores of a great inland sea; sheltered as they are by desert and by mountain, they’ve had only the most limited contact with the Realm. The Southwest has become a brutal frontier land, with rich slaver-states and demon-haunted islands scattered along the Cinder Coast and especially clustered around the Bay of Kings. North of that area is a great isolated landmass known as the Caul, a land sacred to both the Lunar Exalted and the Dragon-Blooded, which they have waged war over for centuries. The West has been pushed out farther from the Blessed Isle than in prior editions, and is regarded by the rest of Creation as a distant land of mystery, opportunity, and wealth for those daring enough to venture forth to claim it. The Great Houses are preparing to stake independent claims on the West as the Blessed Isle draws closer to civil war, and the great Western powers grow increasingly nervous about the Realm’s brazen incursions; they warily eye the monstrous power of the Skullstone Archipelago as a possible rallying point in opposition to the foreign invaders.

There’s a lot going on. Classic locations like Chiaroscuro, Nexus, and Onyx are joined by new settings such as the slum-port of Wu-Jian, gateway to the West; the haunted forests and hills of Medo, whose soldiers are carried away by the Realm to serve as hostage-janissaries; the great distant city of Ysyr, where thaumatocrats rule in sorcerous splendor over a huddled populace, attended by fae slaves; a great beastman empire in the far East; and more.

On a system level, two of our major priorities were making the game easier to run, with less stress and prep-time for Storytellers; and designing a system that was easy to use, faster than either prior edition, and most of all, was fun and exciting rather than predictable and tedious. I feel like we hit those goals pretty well. It’s still by no means a lightweight game, but it works, and once you have a little practice with it, it’s pretty easy to handle.

old hat:
If yoy can deliver on the cool and awesome thing I saw when I read the 1st edition core rulebook but could never quite reach during play, I will buy every book you put out.

Holden:
That’s what we’re aiming for– bringing out more of that pure pulp fantasy goodness that launched the game with a bang, coupled to a system designed from the ground up to deliver it in a fun, usable package, rather than wedding the setting to a slightly hacked version of Vampire: the Masquerade.

Charles Gray:
Iv’e got a question about that– I’ve also played exalted since 1E andfinding new stuff, especially the stuff you’re talking about is pretty nice.

But…is there any consideration on how quickly you’ll be able to get to it? I mean, granted, location books tend to be less crunchy then core books, but it’s still a lot of words.

Just to put it out there, if you did things in the model of the autocthon setting books– 4 or (x), individual PDF supplements followed by a larger book, I’d likely buy both.

Holden:
Compass: Autochthonia isn’t a model that’s likely to be followed– that release model was based on market research about how people preferred to consume PDF products that has since proven… erroneous, and was intended to fill a year-long gap of no other supplements. I mean, it wasn’t written that way. We delivered the whole manuscript at once, and it could have been released all together. I don’t see any reason to artificially lengthen a release these days.


Daerim:
What about the West makes it a source of wealth so attractive to the rest of the world? In previous editions the West always felt… impoverished and kind of backwards. Frightened islanders throwing people into volcanos and paying their taxes in sea shells. Even the impressive parts had that sort of looming over them. Sure, this guy is the ultimate authority here, but he’s still going to pay you in sea shells if you don’t buy in to his petty kingdom.

The West has never been my favorite Direction, but I’m down for swashbuckling on the high seas so there’s always some dissonance.

Blaque:
The vibe I got with how the West has been talked about in the video they did way back when is that instead of this backwater impoverished place, it’s this land of spice islands and riches. It’s much more the Carribean, East Indes and Horn of Africa now than what I gather almost htis fantasy ghettoland it was in previous editions. There’s all sorts of exotic, hard to get, weird stuff out there that people want.

Holden:
Pretty much, yeah. Plus there’s the degree to which anything that comes from there is desirable purely because of the isolation and difficulty of importing anything from the West. I mean, there are Dynasts that collect Western tribal painted masks simply because, hey, they have a connection with House V’neef who can get the things and nobody else can, no matter how rich they are. That’s setting aside rare spices and plants (the most efficacious variety of maiden tea requires herbs that only grow in the West), black pearls the size of your fist, etc.


Dulahan:
Are there any new Dragonblooded groups that AREN’T Lookshy or Realm tied?

Holden:
Yes, though none of comparable population figures to either of those two powerhouses.

The Dragon-Blooded congregate in lineages of power. It’s what they do. It’s what they are!

Notsteve:
Oooo. This is giving me Ideas.

So a small lineage of Dragon-Blooded ruling a nation somewhere off in the Threshold is a valid party concept? I can already see all sorts of fun characters and intraparty interactions coming from that prompt.

Holden:
Totally.


Daerim:
Treading close to dangerous territory, but… how do Lunars and far-flung Dragonblooded groups interact? Is it all wary circling with their possessions held close to hand, or are there less hostile interactions?

Holden:
It really depends on the Lunars and Dragon-Blooded in question. As much as the Realm likes to paint the Lunars as a slavering nightmare-horde of lockstep cannibal monsters, they’re really as diverse as any other Celestial Exalted. Ma-Ha-Suchi isn’t really going to tolerate any other Exalted presence in his territory; Black-Wing Lilac is a pragmatic opportunist who will work with whoever she runs across to get what she wants.

Daerim:
How universal is the Immaculate faith and how much of the Lunars’ war is against the Realm as opposed to the Dragon-Blooded, I guess.

Holden:
The Immaculate Philosophy has pretty far-flung penetration across Creation, though of course the farther you get from the satrapies, the less hold it has. Mind, it’s not like devils have a particularly wonderful reputation in regions that haven’t embraced Christianity, you know? The Immaculate Philosophy doesn’t have to spin the propaganda wheel very hard to make the Lunars look absolutely terrifying.

The Lunar war is against the usurpers of the First Age– the Shogunate and its successor-states, particularly the Realm. There’s not really necessarily an ideology of “fuck all Dragon-Blooded” in place, but, well, Lunars are human. I’ve known enlightened, upstanding men and women who went off to war in Iraq and Afghanistan and upon returning had to carefully and deliberately un-train the reflexive anger they found themselves projecting at any and all individuals of Middle Eastern descent. War teaches pattern thinking and distancing, dehumanizing behavior. Lunars are as prone to that stuff as anyone.

Daerim:
Oh, absolutely. But the books seemed to do it, too. If I remember correctly, the Scarlet Empress was down on the whole seashell thing too, for example. Really, there’s no difference between fantasy silver currency and fantasy seashell currency but the whole picture was just… cargo cults, headhunters, volcano appeasers trading riches they didn’t know they had for seashells.

I mean, really, 2e just comes right out and says there isn’t much of value in the Neck.

Holden:
2e had a lot of issues.

Isator Levie:
I don’t know; Compass: West has to be one of the better ones (being under the helm of Lea without even any prompting to use the word “shinma”), and I’m pretty sure the statement “nothing happens in the Lap” is entirely ironic.

Holden:
Compass: West was probably my favorite of the Terrestrial series. It’s still the one that gave us Insane Torture Culture Leviathan and Island Five. 2e had a lot of issues.


Isator Levie:
Is there still a design premise for things like Essence 2 Charms that they’re less powerful individually but will get a lot more milage out of being diversely combined?

Holden:
Yes.


Matt.Ceb:
I don’t know if that was already asked in this thread or any of its predecessors, but…
Combos. Will they be easier for new players to grasp/create, or still be a stumbling block of tags/keywords/concepts that was hard to keep straight for many “casual” players?

Vance:
Combos are no longer a mechanical Thing that you have to calculate weird xp costs and pay extra for. So, yes?

Holden:
They don’t really exist any more as a formalized concept. The timing rules are fairly simple and largely boil down to “you can’t use two Simple Charms at the same time; otherwise, go nuts.”


Daerim:
Is there anyone in Creation that preaches, for lack of a better word, goody-goody stuff like peace, love and tolerance that isn’t using it as a cover or justification for some kind of atrocity? A just king, noble freedom fighters, honest magistrates… anyone?

It would be nice to see someone at least trying, without it being a Sidereal plot to sucker someone.

Holden:
Sure. They usually get about as far with that as people do in the real world. Then again, that’s the kind of person the Unconquered Sun tends to go “you know, I like your moxy, kid, go forth and make the world a righteous place as best you know how,” so…


Prometheus878:
Setting and feel question!

The upcoming Realm book and the promise of a reinvigorated Scarlet Empire is making so curious about the Blessed Isle! After all, what better place to highlight the struggle against the Dynastic overlords than the heart of the empire itself?

I want a Blessed Isle that’s a study in contrasts: A place where the arrogance and grandeur of the Dynasty is on full display in the teeming metropolises, palatial estates, and myst-shrouded temples; supported upon the backs of the quiet yet proud towns and backwater villages; bordered by the vast, strange and wonderful untamed stretches wilderness, where only heroes, bandits, and monsters dare go. A place that is as thick with solar tombs, hidden treasure vaults, and untouched ruins as anywhere in the Scavenger Lands, left there for adventurers to find, even in the heart of a nation of demigods. A land where the domain of death leaves the shadows and takes hold in the coming darkness, where daring Fae Princes march forth to seize glory from the chaos, long bullied spirits take the chance to grab hold of splendor forbidden to them for so many centuries, and friendly beastman tribes descended from menagerie slaves struggle to simply live in a land that would sooner see them in chains.
A place where there is as much adventure to be had and long-lost fortunes to reclaim by Solars, Dragonbloods, or any hero or villain as anywhere in the Threshold!

Is my desire anywhere near the depiction we’ll find in 3E?

Holden:
That’s the Scavenger Lands you’re describing. The Realm is the heartland of a decadent empire that is now tearing itself asunder. It has a different vibe– it was once the homeland of the gods, and then the seat of power for the Solar Exalted in the First Age, the roost of the Shogun, and now the center of the world’s last great global empire. It’s a place of deep history deliberately forgotten, and a dangerous past that won’t quite stay buried. It’s a land of warring demigods seeking to rule over the heart of the universe.

Gayo:
This sounds like a really cool setting for a campaign, but in a literal sense it’s also what the Realm has always been, which leaves me wondering why no one ever thought of presenting it from this angle before.

Lea:
Yeah a lot of 3e setting presentation is going to turn out like that, I think.


Anu:
What’s the coolest thing about the following:
– Nightingale Style

Vance:
The remix.

Anu:
Starmetal Artifacts

Vance:
I don’t think I can tell you about the wrackstaff I’ve written for Arms of the Chosen just yet, but it is probably one of my favorites.

Anu:
Solar Circle Sorcery

Vance:
There is no singular “coolest thing” because Solar Circle Sorcery is just “holy shit” from start to finish.


Holden:
If you’re a dude on the Blessed Isle, and someone in really obvious jade armor with a daiklave on his back comes tromping down the road like you own it, do you

a) get over to the shoulder really fast and bow your head, or

b) stop him and aggressively question whether or not he is, in fact, one of the Terrestrial Exalted and a scion of the Scarlet Dynasty?

I would suggest that very few people are gonna pick B, because your two most likely results for that course of action are

1) it’s a Solar in disguise, and he ganks you and stuffs your body in the bushes before you can make a scene or

2) it is in fact a Dynast, and he beheads you without breaking stride for your insolence. If he’s in a really forgiving mood, maybe he just kicks you into a tree instead.


Brian888:
I understand from other comments that MA Charms can’t normally be comboed with regular Solar Charms. Can MA Charms be comboed with Evocation Charms (for appropriate MA weapons, of course)?

Vance:
Yep.

Prometheus878:
Ya’ know, this whole separation of MA and regular combat charms might sound weird to people, and it does to me too a little (can a MA stylist use defensive charms from say, Snake and Dodge? Or only between styles?)

But I realize that, with the advent of Solar Xp, this is actually a boon. It allows mentally or socially focused characters to learn MAs with Solar Xp and be effective in combat, because Martial Arts will be balanced with the understanding that a stylist will probably be relying on these styles for most of their fighting ability. They can spend regular Xp being brainy or talky, and use Sxp to advance down the style trees and everything will be cool!

Holden:
It’s not really any weirder than not being able to toss an Archery Charm and a Melee Charm on the same attack.

Nichos:
Okay, let’s go at this from a different angle. Do combos still count attack and defense actions as a single thing? If you make an attack with a weapon-based martial art, does that keep you from turning around and using a Melee defense, like Heavenly Guardian Defense or whatever?

Holden:
Sure doesn’t.


You can find the next compilation here:
Q&A Summary #15

“Ask the Developers” Thread Summary, Post #13

Here’s more summaries from the Exalted developers’ Q&A threads on RPG.net, from the end of the second thread to the beginning of the third thread.

Links to previous threads:
Q&A Summary #1
Q&A Summary #2
Q&A Summary #3
Q&A Summary #4
Q&A Summary #5
Q&A Summary #6
Q&A Summary #7
Q&A Summary #8
Q&A Summary #9
Q&A Summary #10
Q&A Summary #11
Q&A Summary #12


Holden:
Brawl is not MA. Archery is not Thrown. Divisions are created to give different gameplay styles and to support particular character styles.

Brawl is astonishingly stronk, in the hands of a Solar.

Martial Arts are also astonishingly stronk.

Pick the thing that fits your character. The game will have your back and you will have fun.

HoratioAtTheBridge:
They mentioned that it’s not Brawl because watching a bunch of Jeet Kun Do experts sprawl /looks/ more like a bunch of Kung Fu experts fight

John:
I am going to assume you are referring to somebody else here, because this isn’t the reasoning we gave, at all.

Jeet Kune Do is subject to the martial arts Bruce Lee “rejected” which makes it a martial art absolutely. In his very own book which I have read, Bruce Lee describes the very European fencing techniques that went into creating his approach. His ability to step away from Wing Chun is based on his absolute knowledge of Wing Chun. It is a martial art because it is subject to martial arts.

You can certainly, absolutely and 100% play a martial arts guy who throws that all away and becomes a brawler using Brawl. You can also play a “Greco-Roman” style grappler or a Turkish oil wrestler and represent all of that with Brawl. Nothing textually stops this from happening, and Brawl absolutely recommends itself to grapple concepts, dojo or no dojo.

But Brawl explicitly does not require any formal systemized training. It does not exclude it, nor does it preclude it, but it isn’t required. It’s for the pulp hero who is just tough, courageous, talented, and learned in the school of hard knocks. Ie, a literary tradition that informed Exalted, as opposed to a modern formulation of all martial arts as varying forms of science. You can play it that way, but it’s not a proscription against the character who is just tough, mean, and skilled as a natural thing. A myth-hero who didn’t actually have to go level up in sensei’s dojo.

Daerim:
And honestly, if the book says that Brawl is nothing more than highly effective flailing about, then screw that. It’s wrong, because that’s dumb.

John:
First of all, it doesn’t. But this is also an ascription of your bias against something in literature that makes perfect sense and pre-exists the modern conception of every combat system in the world as a martial art. The modern conception was engineered to appeal to the bias of the enlightened guy using science to wrest order out of chaos and light out of darkness mentality, where whatever isn’t science, be it spiritual or religious is somehow barbaric or stupid. It’s all wank if you ask me, I mean, yeah, every formalized system is a martial art—so what? Exalted doesn’t care about that. It has its own definitions, literary ones, and they work fine. Exalted, a game rife with spirits, gods, and mortal divinities, actually depends on something other than science for its logic, waddyaknow?

We’d rather develop a game where martial arts and brawl help you tell stories about your characters, rather than a game where you are telling stories about martial arts and brawl. You can certainly do that if that’s where your funsies are, and I have been thrilled by similar stories (IE Rurouni Kenshin) but you would have a frightening bugbear of a time introducing Himura Kenshin perfectly into Exalted, any edition. And why is that? Really think hard about it, and if your answer is “well the martial arts system was balls” then don’t even bother replying because you missed the Grand Canyon sized point somewhere.

Holden:
All of the Charm trees in Exalted 3rd edition are particular things.

This, necessarily and definitionally, means that they are not other things. In particular, they tend not to be everything.

That is to say, there is a certain style, and mechanical/gameplay logic, to Solar Brawl. This is different than Snake style, or Tiger style, and it’s sure as hell different from Single Point Shining Into the Void (which is, itself, quite different from Solar Melee).

Notice that I do not say ‘weaker than’ or ‘stronger than,’ just ‘different.’

Brawl is a fairly broad formulation, but it’s still a particular formulation. Martial Arts lets us give you more narrow or specific particular formulations. It lets us specifically and in detail render something like kalaripayattu, or muay thai, or iaido, or capoeira, or tiger style, rather than making you fit that imperfectly into a broader framework.

The downside, of course, is that we can’t publish everything anyone might ever want, but if you want to be a strikey-hands fwipp fwipp snake kung fu guy, that’s pretty great for you, because Brawl has a particular style and logic to it and it doesn’t look very much like strikey-hands fwipp fwipp kung fu. Its something else! (It is not “nothing else” or “everything else.”) Meanwhile, Snake style’s got you covered.

Beatrix:
While the desire to understand things by relating them to other things is normal, it doesn’t make sense to try and jam several different narrative forms of fighting into a completely different narrative of fighting. The desire to perfectly map a fictional character from whatever onto Exalted demeans both the original and Exalted, because it ignores all the crunchy awesomeness of the story, and the set up of the game, and aims for boring repetition. I like fanfic as much as the next person but seriously “I wanna play Tony Jaa” is not too far from rolling up Drizzt and Wolverine and wondering why the table rolls their eyes y’know?

Brawl is what it is and if it fits use it.

Like, it’s a critical fail of imagination to go ‘huuuuuuuuuuuu flailing haaaaaaaaaaands’ when confronted by Brawl because I can sure as shit, off the top of my head, come at HTH with four very different character concepts even though mechanically they’re the same. Spidermonkeystreeturchin throws herself at her foes fists first with all the rage of the streets behind her and her faith as her shield, and not a small amount of suicidal ‘I don’t care’. Marquess of Queensbury used to be a fop but once he took his Second Breath it turns out faith and essence makes the uppercut pretty damn special so he fights the way he lived. Tavern Brawly McPunchalot don’t care, she’s just swinging because that’s the only time she really feels the presence of her faith in a way she can understand. And Mama Bear waits until it’s time then takes down her foes with a carefully hoarded furious protection because she isn’t risking anything until she knows she’s going to win.

Holden:
Yes, exactly. We don’t at all conflate what the mechanics say with how clever a player can be when describing a stunt or roleplaying. A brawler can lock on a perfect triangle choke or kimura lock without actually knowing anything like jiu jutsu. A brawler can be a product of violent systemized combat society or simply someone who is cut from no certain cloth, an original. It is ultimately the character that’s important, and to fixate on whether or not it fits modern dogma is to spit on the character at hand.

LeviathanBound:
Wait… maybe I missed something here… but why exactly can’t you do Himura Kenshin in Exalted?

John:
Read carefully: I said you can’t introduce him perfectly.

Lea:
Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu. What would it be, assuming you don’t just want to declare that it’s Solar Charms?

LeviathanBound:
In Second Edition I’d have said that Melee 5 (Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu 3) with some good stunting works just fine. I don’t know anything about the mechanics of 3rd Edition, so I can’t say what would work in that system.

Lea:
Well, in the fiction, Hiten Mitsurugi-rye is specifically a martial system from ancient nightmare, which bestows upon its students superhuman strength and speed, now kept alive by a single master who does not want to pass it on to anyone else, because his experience wielding it as a butcher of men has left him weary of the futility of all violence, even exceptionally competent violence, no matter how well-intentioned… and that master’s single student, Himura Kenshin the Battousai, who wielded it in the hope of creating a better world and then swore off killing when he learned the toll wielding it would take on his soul.

That’s not really three specialty dice.

You can certainly make a character strongly inspired by Himura Kenshin, but 1e and 2e will have difficulty letting you play a character whose lethality comes from his position of the last scion of a specifically lethal school of swordsmanship that is probably best left to die.

John:
This, and that there’s roughly 300 other dudes who can use the same Athletics and Melee Charms with differing weapons to the same effect. The entire idea of Hiten Mitsurugi falls apart if you say it can also be done with a spear, an axe, a hammer, etc. I am not trying to be snarky when I say that it’s pretty hugely obvious why you can’t just drop Kenshin perfectly into Exalted.

The point is that Exalted resists the interpretations of Messrs Watsuki, Kubo, Sittiaumponpan, Lee, and many others, without actually discarding any of them. You can absolutely “do” a Kenshin-like Solar. Exalted Martial Arts are often crazy supernatural secret techniques of godlike masters, like Hiten Mitsurugi. You can stunt Heaven Thunder Hammer like one inch punch. Trying to cram Exalted into the logic of something that is not Exalted produces problems, though, because it was meant to include many distinct things which are often exclusive of one another.

Holden:
That’s leaving aside the incredible can of worms for ANY RPG that is “a school of martial arts so deadly and powerful that all other styles are like chaff before it,” of course.

John:
Which is indeed the main problem I was pointing out when I said that Exalted uses Martial Arts and Brawl to tell stories about your characters, rather than your characters to tell stories about Martial Arts and Brawl. Exalted is not built to tell that story (Kenshin) that way. Kenshin is ultimately a story about the greatest kenjutsu style ever created. You can tell stories like that in Exalted, but not exactly like that.

John:
Some people think I should design the game to make it 100% accurate to something like Hiten Mitsurugi Style, discarding everything else to do so, and then act like I’m a goof when i refuse, like I don’t get it. Actually I understand it very well, but I’m not running the Kenshin RPG. Exalted takes from a variety of rich sources that enable many different, interesting interpretations. Don’t expect me to bow to pressure to conform the entire game to some narrow view based on an idea pulled from some anime. I can point to places on the map where there’s armies who look a lot like hoplites, and Realm legionaries fight with spears and brawl with rival companies when they’re in coin and in cups, and wu-xia is awesome and prevalent in Creation until it isn’t, and if you don’t believe me just ask all those shaolin monks who didn’t single-handedly stop all those real-life invasions by barbarians using what Exalted would interpret as Brawl and Melee.

Daerim:
I would argue that a Martial Arts tree would be a poor choice to represent Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu in Exalted, due to the widely varying nature of its component parts (speed and athleticism, awareness, longevity, sword techniques, affect on the practitioner’s body and perhaps mind). In 3e, I would actually point towards an inheritable exigence (with Athletics, Awareness, Dodge, Melee and perhaps Resistance and Investigation Charms) as a good way to represent it. Training begins to shift the exigence from master to student, which is finalized by the student killing the master to inherit the exigence, name and panoply. Kenshin and Seijuro being a PC-driven inheritance error.

That said, Kenshin’s character archetype is easily expressed with a Dawn invested in the above referenced Abilities. It isn’t perfect, but nothing will be.

John:
You can absolutely do it either way and have a lot of fun doing so, and both methods allow people to tell other, different (potentially exclusive) stories.

The point is, we could make it work exactly like Kenshin, but we’d have to twist and exclude a lot of things to get there.

It is fundamentally the players’ job to do what you just did.

SmilingBeast:
Because what the devs have in mind when they create things is important.

They came in and broadened the Brawl concept a lot from the impression they gave before. It’s good now. Before that, the ideas as they presented them and we understood them here left a lot of simple and awesome concepts unnecessarily orphaned through a specifically over-narrow interpretation.

It’s one thing to think I know how best to do various unarmed fighter in Exalted. It’s another to think I’d have to fight the developers’ vision in order to do so.

John:
Explain how we presented a narrow interpretation that orphaned concepts? Because saying “nawp” when someone demands Brawl to be JKD—which would orphan a lot of concepts—doesn’t actually preclude JKD being otherwise represented.

SmilingBeast:
You drew a distinction between Brawl – presumably distinct from Martial Arts because of the esoteric philosophies and traditions involved – and Jeet Kun Do, which is a martial art built upon rejecting those things and just getting better at fighting by working out what works best in a fight. That looks like an extremely fine point, and when you cut a point that fine, it’s probably significant.

At the same time, you described Brawl as being specifically for guys like Indiana Jones, and defined it as being naturally talented at fighting.

Taken together, as they’re in the same post on the same topic, this appears to add up to the conclusion that Brawl is differentiated from Martial Arts by the idea that Brawl is natural talent and Martial Arts involves structured training.

Apparently, that wasn’t what you meant, because you came back and said so later, but that being the case, I’m really not sure where you were going with that post.

John:
I don’t think that orphans any concepts. In that very post, I’m saying: use Martial Arts for that concept.

Brawl doesn’t require systemized training, but you can imagine it that way without a problem.

The thing not being said here, which is clear to me but I guess not clear to certain others, is that when I talk about the scientific formulation of martial arts, that includes Jeet Kune Do. Exalted doesn’t actually agree with Bruce Lee that there is some form of “better” martial arts to be had by getting rid of the spiritualism and just getting down to the science. Just starting with the fact that most of the major styles in Exalted are both extremely spiritual and would also allow a Chosen practitioner to decimate mortal masters (such as Bruce Lee) in a fight. Which seems kind of like a luxurious argument, I know, seeing as we’re now comparing real people to fictional ones, but it’s the comparison being shoved down our throats by this argument. JKD doesn’t actually make sense in Exalted, which is why I brought up Hiten Mitsurugi. You can make it make sense, but the game isn’t actually made up to do that.

Exalted sides with the mythical Bruce Lee, who goes into the dojo and beats up twenty guys in The Chinese Connection. If you want to do that scene holistically you can write a “JKD of Bruce Lee” style easily. In reality, if Bruce Lee walks into a Japanese dojo and there’s even a single guy there who knows jiu jutsu, Bruce Lee is carried out in a body bag. Fortunately for you, Exalted is not an ultra realistic scientific fighting game, because if it was, grappling would be the #1 to start and finish every fight, it would be the first and best tactic of them all. We deliberately chose not to write an ultra scientific treatise on modern fighting because it would eliminate many fun concepts and narrow the game down to something out of tone and unmythical. Grappling is still extremely scary but it doesn’t parse the way it does in real life, where a whole load of guys named Gracie win UFC titles with jiu jutsu, and most champion shootfighters are extremely grapple based. Meanwhile, I don’t think there’s ever been a single MMA champion who was a pure JKD fighter. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!

The point is, it’s not as important as you think it is, either in real life or Exalted, and Exalted wasn’t built to bow to that one single idea at the expense of all the others.

Jeet Kune Do is absolutely a martial art though. If you walk into a JKD studio they teach you the same kicks and punches you learn everywhere else.


Tyrnis:
Off the subject of brawl and martial arts, you’ve told us that Exalted respire motes comparatively slowly out of combat (much like they have in previous editions), or more quickly while in combat, and you’ve also told us that sorcery draws on the essence of Creation around the sorcerer, as opposed to his personal essence pool. If the questions aren’t too mechanics oriented, can sorcery draw on the essence of the Underworld as readily as that of Creation, or is it more difficult to use there? And for the (non-Abyssal) Exalted, is mote respiration still reduced or eliminated while in the Underworld, and does that apply to both types of respiration?

John:
Essence accumulation is absolutely pointed out in various ways through sorcery mechanics and will be further illustrated by how and where Abyssals can gain motes. There are many different forms of Essence with different properties and behaviors.


will2goforth:
First Uhlume was the Lord of Death from Death’s Master. The two biggest ones would be how easy it would be to make a god with a similar purview assuming one doesn’t exist already and how a god who’s purview was death would likely react to Liminals.

John:
Well the GOD OF DEATH is SATURN but I suppose you want something more Grim Reaper / Uriel like? So I suggest a new recruit to her bureau who was given an office that fits your needs. Depending on what you want, it should be very easy. If you want to step away from Exalted’s conception of Saturn as Mung / Atropos / “Murder Buddha” make it a strange spirit, one of the kind that has never had a place in Heaven, and which, through time and selected worship, has cultivated the Abyss into its own natural Essence and has become a thing of Death.*

Such a spirit would look upon the Liminals with contempt. Depending on how much power it seeks to derive from the Underworld, such a being might be threatened by ones whose purpose are to hunt the dead who walk Creation. Alternately, if it more of an incorporation of the offices of Heaven, however dark and deathly, it might work as a benefactor to a Liminal group, although perhaps an untrustworthy one?

*In the Western conception.


HoratioAtTheBridge:
The devs have said interesting things about religion being “more than transactional” in the past, so I’m thinking those themes may have bearing in this Journey game. After all, if you’re searching for True Religion, you have to deal with what True Religion means. In Exalted, the Gods have a definite purpose – maintaining Creation, particularly against the erosion of the Wyld. So, is True Religion just when the Gods properly fulfill their purpose, and the people give them proper food (worship) to fuel that effort? If so, are the Immaculates so wrong? What is wrong with the Immaculate faith?

Vance:
There is no objectively correct faith in Creation. The gods were never meant to reign in heaven and be worshipped by the peoples of Creation, but at the same time, the monstrous demon princes who created the universe don’t exactly seem like guys I’d wanna pray to.

There are lots of people in Creation who believe their faith is true and objectively correct, like there are in reality.

HoratioAtTheBridge:
Of course, the big question here is what makes a religion True. And the setting won’t really answer that, though there can be examples of a lot of ways to answer it. So you may have:

1) The folk who made everything deserve to be worshiped
2) The gods have a purpose, and we worship them in proportion to how well they fulfill their duty
3) The greatest exemplars of virtue deserve to be worshiped
4) Powerful beings deserve to be worshiped
5) I really like that god/something about that god speaks to me, so I worship him

The setting /can/ tell us examples of different people who think each way, and can provide objective answers to how each faith lives up to those measures.

Edit: And I’d like to know the best place in the setting to send my monks to explore each of those propositions. 😀

Vance:
The Immaculates run on a combination of #1, #3, a Terrestrial-only take on #4, and #5.

Outside of the Immaculates, the vast majority of “gods” probably don’t take credit for creating the world, but I’m sure there are still plenty who do that. There are countless creation myths across the cultures of Creation, and telling one about yourself can be a powerful way of persuading people to worship you, if you manage to convince them. Infernalist cults probably don’t know that they’re serving emanations of the makers of the universe.

Worshipping gods based on how well they fulfill their “duty” depends upon what duty we’re talking about. If it’s stewarding the air currents of Creation’s upper skies in a wise and even-handed manner, then no. Pretty much no one who would worship a god has access to the knowledge to even make that appraisal, and probably even fewer care. On the other hand, if a god provides a culture with fertile harvests, victory in war, or rain in drought, now we’re talking. This could be the crude transactions of an asshole god, but it could also be something like Yahweh’s covenant with the tribes of Israel or Odin throwing the spear Gungnir over a battlefield to determine which side will prevail. You’ll find cultures where religious scholarship has developed to the level of having a complex divine hierarchy based on that religion’s concept of divine purpose, but such concepts are rarely “keep this river patched up because the Yozis told you to.”

I’m sure many gods believe themselves to be exemplars of virtue, and claim worship based on that. But that just shifts the inquiry to what “virtue” means, which is just as subjective as any moral inquiry.

Power is generally a good way to get people to worship you, although that dynamic may be left implicit in the theology.

“Picking” a D&D-style patron god isn’t a thing that happens in large parts of Creation. If you grow up in Harborhead, maybe you’ll decide that Ahlat’s religion is all a load of walrus mating, but you’re not going to then convert to worshipping Vanileth because you like tinkering with things. He’s a world away from you, and you don’t have a convenient Roll of Glorious Divinity on hand. Things like Epicurean worship and bodhisattvas certainly can exist in the world—a god might be drawn to and favor mortals with particular traits, and cultures with complex pantheons of multiple gods could involve an element of freely choosing which ones to worship.


will2goforth:
Wait are they getting rid of the Island Five all together or just the whole factory cathedral supermassive fleet part?

Lea:
There wouldn’t be much of a point of having an “Island Five” if we got rid of the factory cathedral creating a supermassive fleet, since Island Five did not exist in the setting prior to Compass: West and was only added there as a place to put a factory cathedal creating a supermassive fleet.

More to the point, Skullstone in 3e won’t have a Deathlord who is secretly planning on killing and obliviating his entire population in order to make a mindless Direction-scouring army, because “A Deathlord who is not really overtly hostile, and seems to be just running a society where life and death intermingle” is probably of more use to the setting than “A Deathlord who seems not really overly hostile, but actually he’s just as much of a Skeletor as the other twelve.”

ADamiani:
Really?
Why?
Because Island Base, secret fleet, respectable public face makes him a really solid James Bond villain. He’s basically Alexander Pierce.

Vance:
Bond villain is shooting too low for antagonists of the Deathlords’ caliber.

Lea:
Having the Secret Twist for Skullstone be “And soon all of this will be burned to ash and cinder by its ruler, and all its inhabitants souls’ destroyed, and there’s nothing you can do about it probably!” discourages player engagement.

AlphaWhelp:
I don’t inherently reject a silver prince Nerf. I reject the concept of nice-guy-deathlord.

Lea:
Who said he was nice? Silver Prince in 1e was clearly probably up to something maybe.

We’re just not happy with the way it was actualized.

We’re also much more interested in Skullstone as a setting than as an adventure site, and more interested in the Deathlords as disparate powerful figures with a bunch of different agendas than as a unified cabal all working towards the same end.

AlphaWhelp:
Why are the never born making champions to do things other than end the world? Will the never born also be getting new personalities and contradictory goals?

Lea:
Hmm.

(That’s a thing that I wrote like a year and a half ago, FYI. Maybe longer. The context was someone asked “Can the Deathlords betray the Neverborn?” and someone else replied “No, of course not, because X book says they have Limit tracks, and the Neverborn obvs would use their Limit tracks to prevent it.”)

AlphaWhelp:
1. Why the hell would the never born continue to aid a bunch of shit head ghosts who betrayed them? (Re: why would the never born bother to negotiate for abyssals if those abyssals were not going to be used for the never born goals?). Are you going to say now that maybe they aren’t and the abyssals work directly for the never born? That might be pretty cool and introduces a deathknight vs deathlord dynamic we haven’t seen before. ( there is basically nothing in the underworld that can challenge an abyssal except another abyssal)

Lea:
Because the Neverborn are a) crazy, b) stuck at the bottom of a pit, and c) not even conscious actors, but rather thrashing around in their dead-but-dreaming sleep.

AlphaWhelp:
2. Where do we draw the line at “fuck it”. Will akuma be allowed to tell their patron yozi to eat a dick now? Why would the yozi risk making more god damned solaroids knowing they can be betrayed and killed by the very exalted they made (GSPs)

Lea:
I know of no plans for akuma and similar free-will-denied Yozi pawns to return in 3e.

It’s seriously starting to seem like you oppose what I’ve said here about the Silver Prince because what you think makes for a good Silver Prince has like absolutely nothing to do with what I think makes for a good one.

AlphaWhelp:
If deathlords can now betray neverborn, how does FaFL get his armor? Does he even have the same armor? Maybe he’s just wearing normal armor now? Why would princess magnificent do anything he says? When you mess with the fundamental axioms of an established setting while at the same time trying to preserve that setting as much as possible, what you end up with is something even worse than what you had than when you started (see: Zeal)

Lea:
I am sure you can come up with a non-sucky description of how the Neverborn may have imprisoned the First and Forsaken Lion in his armor that’s consistent with everything I’ve just said. Hint: Sometimes, beings that drift in and out of lucidity may have periods of greater lucidity, and sometimes, powerful actors under constraint may encounter circumstances in which their power to act is more or less constrained.

Lea:
Pointing to two examples of Deathlords being punished for going against the Neverborn’s wishes and holding that up as a reason for why the Deathlords can’t go against the Neverborn’s wishes or else they’ll be punished is like pointing to a jail full of criminals as evidence for why there’s no crime, because criminals get sent to jail.

AlphaWhelp:
But neither here nor there. the FaFL is an exception because most of the other deathlords actually want to be loyal to the neverborn

Lea:
Not my read.

Or, at least, not my read of the Deathlord material I actually like.

Kahbiel:
Breaking out the Island V fleet and its attendant atrocities turns the whole question of the game from “what is the right choice?” to “whose magic dick is biggest?”. It’s so big it’s trivial, it’s so looming it’s ridiculous.

Lea:
This is well-said.

Blaque:
I mostly am noting how Skullstone doesn’t need a giant massive First Age arsenal doomfleet to be badass if it has over half a dozen Celestial Exalted, a Deathlord and necromancers. The worry that just a circle of Solars will steamroll over that by dint of being a circle of Solars seems to be devaluing the whole factors involved in what makes Skullstone potent as-is without introduction of bullshit doomfleets.

I could see a fairly long-established and well-trained necromancer being a good threat though if they play their cards right. Skullstone happens to be a regional superpower due to so many powerful beings and lots of necromancy in one place, though. Emphasizing what it has already as potent makes the need for a doomfleet much less justifiable, I find.

And stuff.

Holden:
Skullstone is a regional superpower, above and beyond and before anything else, because it is staggeringly wealthy.

Irked:
I’m arguing for deathlords that are, from an omniscient-reader point of view, unambiguously evil;

John:
Deathlords are clearly horrific, terrible, wicked beings, but they can’t be considered unambiguously evil because their uncanny nature is by definition ambiguous. A Deathlord is not just a scary sorcerer king with all the ambitions you’d expect, but a remnant, a shadow, a thing created by horrific agony and loss, and animated by memories, emotions, and a manifestation of powerful Essences that can never die. Is a hurricane unambiguously evil? Is Lucifer evil, or the one who created him, already knowing what he would be? Are the Sidereals unambiguously evil? They put the sword in his back; they made the Deathlord possible. They didn’t know what would happen. Does this oversight make them unambiguously evil?

No. They might be evil, but the very nature of evil is that it is ambiguous. If it wasn’t, justice would be infallible and obvious in every respect, and there’d be no problems to solve and no debates worth having. Can you call a Deathlord evil without implicating everyone who had a hand in creating him? Can you call a Deathlord evil at all, if it is not responsible for its actions?

Holden:
Comparing 1e Skullstone to 2e Skullstone, 2e Skullstone is much more detailed and vastly less interesting because it all ultimately reduces to “everyone there is the Silver Prince’s dupe lining up for the slaughterhouse, also he has 100 indestructible warships each individually capable of conquering a nation”

Irked:
Briefly put, I suspect you and I have a fundamental real-world disagreement on this point. I think there are lots of other possible reasons for fallible justice, including things like, “We don’t have an objective, omniscient third-person view of the world” and “We are, ourselves, more than a little bit wicked”; none of these negate the possibility that something can be objectively (and quite unambiguously) evil. I also think this is probably not the forum for the debate that could ensue on that point.

John:
You don’t have an omniscient third person view of Exalted either, so what you’re asking for isn’t actually possible.


Tricksy and False:
Question for devs and writers:

When it comes to limit break, what media resources (books, TV shows, etc) would you suggest for understanding it? My go-to example is season two of Avatar: the Last Air-Bender when Aang flips out in the desert when he realizes Apa has been kidnapped. I’m usually hard-pressed to think of other examples from other works of fiction, though.

This assumes limit break is even still a thing in 3E.

Vance:
Jesus driving the moneylenders out of the temple. Gilgamesh oppressing and ravaging the people of his kingdom until they cry out to the gods for relief. Asuka’s slide into suicidal depression after being traumatized by an attacking angel. Batman of Zur-En-Arrh. Achilles in his tent, of course.


Anu:
Without going into the mechanics, can you tell us how Solars can use familiars in combat?

Vance:
You can ride a tyrant lizard into the ranks of an army and start chowing down.

You can fight alongside the pack of wolves that raised you.

Or you could do this.


will2goforth:
Are mortals only able to use sorcerous workings or can they also gain access to spells?

Vance:
They can cast spells.

will2goforth:
Is sorcery something they have to be born with, something you can gain through studying/deals with powerful beings, or both?

Vance:
Sorcery is not something that everyone is capable of, but the quality that makes one capable is deliberately left instated. A mortal could master sorcery by reading the tomes of an ancient library-manse, strike a bargain for power with an elemental lord, or initiate into the sorcerous truths of the cosmos through profound revelation, or any other number of unique paths.

will2goforth:
If you had a mortal, a Dragonbloded, and a Solar all trying to do the same tuning with sorcery would someone be able to tell what each of them were by how they went about it?

Vance:
What do you mean by “tuning?”

will2goforth:
Sorry that was a mistype and autocorrect. Was supposed to be if they were trying to do the same thing. So if they were each casting the same spell how easy would it be for another character be to figure out who was who. I’m curious both because I wonder what it would look like to an outside observer when each of them use sorcery and because I wonder how hard it would be for a Solar sorcerer to masquerade as a mortal or Dragonbloded sorcerer.

Vance:
It depends. The ways that a sorcery casts their sorcery depends on their specific initiation—you’ll probably be able to tell the infernalist who pacted with Ligier for power from a scavenger prince who’s mastered the sorcerous power of an emerald ring uncovered in a ruin. As a general rule, whether you’re a mortal or an Exalt doesn’t make a difference as to that, but there are some exceptions. There may be a distinctively Solar philosophy of sorcery, or a recognizable system taught at the Heptagram, but those are going to be the exception rather than the rule.


deluge:
Will the Lintha still have a supernatural origin in 3E?

John:
Oh yes.


Anu:
Can Sorcerers initiate into more than one type of sorcery?
Can you tell us anything about Sidereal sorcery?
Are there any Charms of Evocations that interact with sorcery?

Holden:
1) Hmm, what do you mean by ‘type of’ sorcery?

2) Sidereal sorcery is practiced primarily by the Sidereal Exalted.

3) Yes, there are. :0

MAXedOUT:
Seeing as the first tier of magic is the Emerald (terrestrial) tier, do the majority of the spells involve one of the 5 elements?

Vance:
There’s no forced association, although a fair bunch of the Terrestrial Circle spells are elemental magic.

MAXedOUT:
Are there any spells that involve more than one element being “harnessed” at the same time?

Vance:
Does a Magma Kraken count?

will2goforth:
1) Are any/most/all spells limited to certain initiation methods?

Vance:
There aren’t any restrictions based on initiation in the core book spells, although it’s not unimaginable that those could show up later on in the line.

will2goforth:
2) Is there any sorcery initiation associated with the Fair Folk?

Vance:
There is one that is closely tied to the Wyld, which can be pretty easily hacked to fit gaining sorcerous power from a faerie bargain or similar.

will2goforth:
3) Are all the various initiation methods thought up so far going to be in the core book?
4) If someone comes up with an initiation method that you hadn’t thought of will there be any way to make that work?

Vance:
The diversity of initiations means that we could never fit them all into one book. The entire initiation system is essentially a system for taking cool sorcerer character concepts and translating them into mechanics that play nicely with the sorcery system. There’s some advice on hacking together your own homebrew initiations.

will2goforth:
1) Has summoning remained mostly unchanged from previous editions?

Vance:
By and large. Mechanical and conceptual changes have been made, but it’ll largely play out the same.

will2goforth:
2) Is there anything other than access to the third circle that makes Solars preeminent sorcerers?

Vance:
Solar Occult Charms can’t hurt!

will2goforth:
3) What is the most interesting option available to sorcerers thats being introduced in this edition?

Vance:
Something to do with a Magma Kraken, probably.

El_phantasmo:
F’rex a mortal casting Magma Kraken (Running theme!) has a big Magma Kraken turn up. A Solar does the same as does a Lunar. Do all the Magma Krakens function and appear the same? This is of course assuming just the spells used, no Charms or Evocations or anything added into the mix.

Vance:
“It’s the Death of Obsidian Butterflies, not the Death of Silver Wrens.” That quote largely holds true—every spell is a distinctive and unique miracle that takes a particular form. However, it’s not unimaginable that some initiations could allow some aesthetic manipulation.

Anu:
Can a sorcerer initiate into Wyld Sorcery, then strike a bargain with a god to initiate into whatever kind of sorcery that gives, then initiate into the sorcery that’s implied to do something weird to the soul, and then top it off by picking up the Solar sorcery charms?

Gotta catch ’em all.

John:
That’s not actually a thing.

There’s no such thing as “Wyld Sorcery” in the sense you’re imagining.

Vance:
There aren’t really “kinds” of sorcery in the way you’re referring to. I’ve been pretty liberal with my use of quotation marks around related terms, and there’s a reason. The difference between seeing the truth of the cosmos in the Ginnungagap of chaos, gambling with the God of Foolish Choices for sorcerous power, and threading your soul together with a goetic symbiote is what I’ve been calling your “initiation.” “Initiation” is the lens through which you see and are able to shape sorcery, not a type. It’s kinda semantically nitpicky, but I think it’s an important misconception to dispel.

That said, yeah.

Roland X:
Then to put it another way, can you have multiple “lenses,” the way some Awakened can learn multiple paradigms in Mage, or it is more like, “you already had your epiphany into the fundamental nature of the universe, you can’t do that twice”? Or split the difference and only certain Exalted can take multiple initiation-related abilities as Charms, because Exalted?

Lea:
Book’s got advice on mixing-and-matching the benefits of the various Initiations, or stealing the mechanics for the existing ones to make your own.

Roland X:
That’s cool, but it still begs the question of whether or not initiatory benefits can be added to or swapped out, and the consequences of any related bargains. Basically, there will always Fausts who bargain too greedily and too deep, to epically mix my metaphors, but could you have a Constantine who flips off the three demons he’s made deals with, because only one of them can have him?

Lea:
We don’t really have a Faustalike, in the sense of sorcerers who initiate via fuckup they really should have thought out better.

Vance:
I think you could wrangle an initiation around it, but a lot of it would be about the awesome sorcerous upsides you get, which kinda cancels out the ill-considered fuckup element. As a general rule, being a sorcerer is awesome, not something fraught with reasons to brood.

Lea:
More specifically, the insight necessary to become a sorcerer is yours. It’s not something someone can take away from you, it’s not something someone can gift you in a trapped fashion. If you find insight in mind-cracking exposure to a terrible god-monster from outside time and space, it’s real insight. If you achieve an epiphany after learning secrets from a demon, it’s a real epiphany. There isn’t really an equivalent to “I grant you this power, but in exchange I own your soul,” at least not in the context of sorcery; even if your initiation is terrifying, or awful, you still come out of it with something that belongs wholly to you.

Anu:
So if a Solar gains sorcery from bargaining with a god/elemental/ghost demon, it’s not the bargain itself that grants her sorcery, but rather the accumulated occult knowledge which she called upon during and gained as a result of the bargain?

Lea:
You can bargain with a demon to teach you the secrets of sorcery but the demon actually has to teach you the secrets of sorcery as part of the bargain, yeah. Then you know them.

Like, the setting has space for the spirit that makes a bargain with a dude and thereafter follows the dude around and uses its powers on his behalf, and the dude has to keep doing what the spirit says or the spirit can stop, and this can even abut sorcery somewhat, but that’s not really sorcery’s inherent design space as such.


Hurum:
What Thaumaturgy like in this edition?

Vance:
Rare and miraculous gifts possessed by shamans, wise men and women, and mystical initiates, which the Exalted may master through the Occult Ability.


Blaque:
As I gather, the devs have stated that Akuma actually indeed are no longer a thing.

Lea:
Let’s say instead that their inclusion is not guaranteed. There’s no reason someone might not come up with a really cool take on them between now and whenever.


Wuse_Major:
Ignoring Exaltations and Sorcery for the moment, are there any other ways for a normal person to gain magic? If so, can you tell us about them?

John:
Normal people can’t do magic.

will2goforth:
Is there any way to use spells without being a sorcerer? Like an artifact or something that would let you use a specific spell.

John:
Nothing we’ve written thus far will allow it, but the Solars made all manner of sorcerous weaponry, so maybe.


Sigilistic:
A while back, the devs mentioned that there would be a sort of “What If?” timeline approach to the setting, with glimpses into the future of what would/could happen unless the players get involved. Could you elaborate more on how that will be handled?

John:
We have a lot of ideas for this, and I can’t reveal them all. Whatever we present as “in the future” will be available for you to change or guarantee–whatever fits your story.


Bersagliere Gonzo:
Are there any plans to give “familiar charms” to Lunars?

Holden:
Lunars are still a ways out, but I imagine they will have some tricks in this department.


axl666:
Hi Holden, John and other dev.,

After a good bit of consideration I think I’m going to skip the Ex3 rulebook. Mainly
because I’m happy enough with the rule set in Ex1 edition.

However I’m very interested in the books that you have coming out soon after the
EX3 core (exigents, dragon-blooded etc.)

Would it be easy to cannibalize those books for parts (setting/charm ideas etc.) that could
be used for a 1st ed. ruleset?

John:
You should find a lot of new inspiration in future releases. 🙂


Rylan:
Metaphysics question, I hope it makes sense. Some presumptions, first.

Gods can create Exigents, and that is basically what the Unconquered Sun did when he created his Exalted, he just had enough power to do it a lot. These Exalted all start with that tiny ‘scrap’ of power, and it grows over time, perhaps even beyond what the God themselves could have achieved. (Maybe? Can a Super-Max Solar go toe to toe with Sol? I’ll assume.)

What if the God was able to call that power back, consume it or have it channeled back to them in some way? What would happen to the God? Would they just explode? Would they become a Primordial? (In a way, any god that creates an Exalted kind of is a Primordial, since subservient souls are direct extensions of the …head(?) Primordial and that paradigm can be likened to how Gods use their power to create an Exalted. Some key differences, but the concepts can be said to be similar.) Using the UCS as an example, if he had 150 high power Solar essences all return to him, would that not inflate his power exponentially?

I think it’s been said that the Gods can’t do that, but in a game about punching living oceans tied up in the threads that hold the world together all run by mechanical spiders who like it when things are awesome I’m not about to rule out a Solar going “I wonder what would happen if the man upstairs had all of this power back?”

Sorry if that doesn’t make any sense. It’s been in my head a long time.

John:
First, that’s not how the Unconquered Sun made his Solars. He needed no Exigence to produce his Chosen.

Second, the Essence of an Exalt is no longer the property of the god who chose them, such that they could recall the power. It is a sufficiently different Essence as to be thought of as the Essence of an entirely different being or god, because it is. Lytek scrapes a lot of dross off of Exaltations and they’re still fundamentally outside the Essence of the gods who bore them. So while there is a strong connection between the Essence of the Exalt and their progenitor spirit, it is not like a power pellet they’ve eaten or a spell that’s been cast on them, a floaty bit of magic energy that makes them a superhero. It’s actually their Essence, the sum of all that makes them be.

Look at this Etymology of the word essence:

late 14c., essencia (respelled late 15c. on French model), from Latin essentia “being, essence,” abstract noun formed (to translate Greek ousia “being, essence”) from essent-, present participle stem of esse “to be,” from PIE *es- “to be” (cognates: Sanskrit asmi, Hittite eimi, Old Church Slavonic jesmi, Lithuanian esmi, Gothic imi, Old English eom “I am;” see be).

Essence in Exalted is more than just a word slapped onto your mana points. It is a word that was very carefully chosen because it represents a wholeness of a sum, not just one part of it. Essence is a total emanation. You cannot lose your Essence without dying. Your Essence does not then return to your patron because it is not exactly theirs anymore.


Solar:
On the subject of the setting;

Scavenger Sons, in 1st ed, specifically noted that it tended to look at the more unusual city-states which kind of skewed the information we are presented with towards places which resist or have a strange relationship with the Realm. I always felt that material on the Realm was typically regarding the Blessed Isle or almost made it seem like a paper tiger, even in terms of the Realm before the Empress disappeared.

Will the upcoming Realm sourcebook cover the non-Blessed Isle elements of The Realm who are thoroughly loyal/oppressed in a bit more detail? It would be nice to have more examples of places where The Realm really do stamp resistance into the ground, the Immaculate Order really do destroy local religious cults etc, and the Realm is generally given more of an Imperial sense. I admit, I’ve not read all the setting material that the Exalted line has released, but I did feel that it was somewhat odd for everywhere the material looked at, it showed a self-professed exception to the norm.

John:
Indeed it will.


Isator Levie:
Speaking of sorcerers; mortals becoming sorcerers is supposed to be rare and difficult, but can any of the Exalted influence that, and how much would it take to do so?

Vance:
There is no Charm that lets you just turn a mortal into a sorcerer. At the same time, “was taught the ancient secrets of sorcery by one of the returned Exalted” is a perfectly legitimate origin for a sorcerer.

Isator Levie:
So it’s going to take establishing an academy

Vance:
The academy is not the default mode of sorcerous instruction—outside of the Heptagram, of course. Each sorcerer’s methods of teaching her students are probably going to be heavily shaped by the way she casts sorcery, her personality, and her personal skills in training or educating others.

Isator Levie:
Your comment has helped shift me into a mind set in which a Solar elevating a miracle worker or a hero is the kind of thing that should more reflect the personal interactions between them rather than churning them out like an assembly line.

Vance:
Yup.

Isator Levie:
I don’t think it would be incorrect to say that if you want to develop a large, organised and somewhat uniform group of sorcerers, you kind of need to be the sort of person who would build Sperimin.

It’s like the Dragon Blooded; sure, there are at least as many outside the Realm as there are inside of it, but there’s no getting around something that at least resembles the Scarlet Dynasty if you want them all to be in one place.

If you want to institutionalize something, you probably need an institution. 😀

Vance:
There are multiple modes of institution that sorcerous traditions can take, and the mode of “school” doesn’t work for everyone. Illustrious Aya, who read the sorcerous treatises of her own past incarnation in the ruins of a great library-manse, isn’t going to face much trouble adapting the academy model. Fox That Haunts The Mill, who initiated into sorcery by glimpsing the terrible secret face of the cosmos in her dreams, is going to want some alternative arrangement, maybe in the mode of “cult.”


Wuse_Major:
Hmmm… Is there a charm that would allow a mortal martial artist to practice supernatural martial arts? Would a Working do it? I get that the person in question probably stops being “mortal” in the process, but is it a thing an Exalt could do?

John:
The answer to these kinds of questions will always be emphatically no.

Now if you’re asking if YOUR Exalt can do it, that’s another story.

And the answer is none of my business. Ask your Storyteller.


Guancyto:
So, back in the 2nd thread (my god you guys, you have over a thousand pages of Q&A, you are made of madness) there was some writing about giving the Great Houses of the Realm a lot of good reasons to fight each other, which is probably something they needed.

Are there a lot of good reasons for people in them to cooperate? I say this because every single dynastic game I’ve ever been in or seen has each PC from a different House (seriously, never any overlap, we seem to treat it like character classes). It’d be good to know that there’s some leeway for me to make a V’Neef and my buddy to make a Peleps and we can together forge the Oath of the Peach Garden to hold together a failing Realm without, you know, getting immediately crucified by our relatives.

John:
Re: V’neef/Peleps: Well, why should they crucify you? It seems to me like your characters have divorced themselves from their families. If they haven’t, then you have to explain why they are working together in the first place—why they have so much loyalty to one another when their loyalties should lie with their families, which would put them in conflict. There are hundreds of reasons why a Peleps and V’neef friendship is very unlikely and impractical, but your characters bucked the trend. I don’t think crucifixion is on the agenda for going out on your own. Expect a cut in stipend and reduced roles of importance if you ignore your elders or refuse to use your friend as a source of info on a rival House. The conflict you are talking about doing away with is actually the one that drives your story.


Anu:
Can you tell us something about intimidation and related Presence charms?

Vance:
*fondly regards Countenance of Vast Wrath*

Anu:
Can I use it to stare down drug dealers and demand they say my name?

Vance:
Yes, in the same way that you can use a nuclear warhead to take down a squirrel on yonder tree branch.


Charles Gray:
So here’s a question– some of us like the magitech Final Fantasy style look and feel, while the canon setting isn’t going with ths, how hard would it be to tweak to rules to work with that style of setting?

Vance:
Warstriders and gunzosha armor and suchlike are still things that exist. What’s changed is their presentation in the setting (re: being rare wonders of a lost age), and the lack of the term “magitech” itself. If you want to crank everything into overdrive and make warstriders as common as daiklaves, the rules aren’t going to give out on you, but the setting is going to be majorly warped.


Isator Levie:
I get the feeling from a lot of hatewheel’s statements that this Edition isn’t really interested in vigorously deconstructing its own mythology.

John:
Indeed.

FrivYeti:
Metaphysics wank was actually what drew a lot of my group to play Exalted. If we wanted sword and sorcery, we could get that anywhere, but Exalted had this great, sweeping idea of how the universe worked, which was something new and different and exciting. Motonic physics and the writings of the Shogunate from the Aspect books, the songs of the least gods and the nature of the constellations, the bodies of the Yozi and the mechanisms by which the Sun was born and might pass his power on – this was all stuff that we ate up, that informed characters and gave us ideas that entire campaigns hinged on.

Without it, I don’t think I could have convinced them to try Exalted as opposed to just playing Fate.

I mean, I’ve come to accept that my opinion is not that of the developer team, but I’m never going to stop being disappointed about that.

Irked:
This is true for a lot of my group, as well – not all of them, but for many (including me), “fantasy world with rich metaphysics” was a huge draw in a way that “Like Conan!” would not have been. That doesn’t mean it needs to matter to anyone else, obviously, but it’s a bit weird to hear people say, “But what did that really add?”

John:
That’s funny–Conan has only ever made it into tonal comparisons. The metaphysics have been explained to you personally, but you always stated your “confusion” in dozens of posts.

Blaque:
I think the thing to think on is not so much whether or not there will be metaphysics but what emphaiss is put on them, where and how much that is emphasized. The shinma in the original Fair Folk book were supposed to evoke a sense of legend and possible myth unique to the raksha, not something known outside of them. 2e made them real and told you ways the universe interacted with them in details that don’t matter since in the end a world without any of the shinma as they were classified is incoherent to human players.

Irked:
I mean, according to some of the 1e quotes from Dr. Moran, the primary original purpose of the shinma is so you could hunt them down and punch them until Kejack and the Empress are the same person. You can say they were there to evoke a sense of legend and myth, and that’s certainly true, but they were also an application of set theory to a fantasy world, with the intent that you might someday do violence to the underlying cosmological principles of reality.

John:
Meanwhile, I’ve had personal discussions with writers who have claimed that the Neverborn are not killable, not even through the use of Ghost-Eating Technique. It’s reasonable to suspect that the shinma might also be something that don’t exist to be facepunched, because indeed, certain writers made those kinds of statements.

Solar:
Like I said, just because you’re not interested doesn’t mean it’s not interesting.

Now, if you said “what’s more useful, the absolute truth, or what the various characters think are the truth?” then I’d say the latter, but the latter comes from people’s understanding (and lack thereof) of the actual situation. I don’t want to leap upon “did night exist before the Night Caste?” as a hill to die on, here (because it happened ages ago and yeah, it’s not really something you can know either way as a character in modern creation, nor would it really help you if you did), but I do think that if Exalted is going to present some myth elements, and also have a theme running through it of investigating a pseudo-realistic ramification of a mythical situation (which is basically the thrust of the game, and something which has drawn a lot of people) then you can’t complain when people start asking questions about what this particular myth really means. Of course they’re asking. The whole game basically trains you to go “hmmm, I wonder what the logistics of Usurpation looked like.”

Like I said, I’m fine with the game not answering that question, but that doesn’t mean those questions aren’t interesting. Not to you, it seems, but to others? Definitely seems to be the case.

John:
People find that sort of question (“of or from the Dragons”) interesting because there is no answer. Questions with mutually exclusive answers can lead to interesting stories. These stories conflict with each other until the question gets answered. We see that conflict as desirable, and the answer to the question as more than pointless. We see it as destructive, because it eliminates conflict.

To further clarify the pointlessness of the answer—the point of that story was not whether Deled is right or wrong. It’s that he killed a woman in broad daylight in front of witnesses because he could get away with it. Focusing on his dogma and ignoring the corpse and the society that produced a murderer is not seeing the forest for the trees. We have very good reasons for not devoting word counts to that kind of navel gazing.


You can find the next compilation here:
Q&A Summary #14

“Ask the Developers” Thread Summary, Post #12

I know it’s been several months since I’ve posted. Between personal difficulties and a cascade of Exalted assignments, I had to cut back on a lot of activities, and the blog was a casualty. But my personal life has settled back down, and I’m currently between Exalted drafts, so this seems like a good time to start catching back up on the Exalted developers’ Q&A thread on RPG.net.

Links to previous threads:
Q&A Summary #1
Q&A Summary #2
Q&A Summary #3
Q&A Summary #4
Q&A Summary #5
Q&A Summary #6
Q&A Summary #7
Q&A Summary #8
Q&A Summary #9
Q&A Summary #10
Q&A Summary #11


kenichi-kun:
Will the gentes of Lookshy be getting a similar redeaign/focusing? Any changes there that you want to share?

John:
Lookshy has been given an almost total overhaul. Main features are still pronounced.


Prometheus878:
Economic question!

The two metallic currency standards mentioned in 2E were the jade obol and the silver dinar. Will gold be considered valuable as a universal currency? Would it be more, less, or the same value as silver? (I’m sure jade will retain its place as the most valuable “common” metal by far.)

Vance:
There isn’t a gold-based currency, or at least, not one with anywhere near the massive geographic scale of the Realm’s jade standard and the Guild-backed silver. The possibility of refining gold into orichalcum probably means that gold would demand a high price if you could find the the right buyer, but there aren’t going to be enough legendary craftsman to make up the entire demand for gold in any society. I’m sure that there are some cultures who like making jewelry and ornaments out of the shiny gold metal and so value it highly, just like I’m sure there are cultures who don’t bother mining it because they have no use for a soft, weak metal.


Anu:
The South gets the Caul and the Dreaming Sea to spice things up a little. What does the North get that’s equivalent to that?

Lea:
The North doesn’t currently have a single new multi-location region like the Southeast has the Dreaming Sea and environs or like the Southwest has the Caul or the Cinder Coast, but there’s no reason we couldn’t figure out one later. Just, nobody had an exceptionally cool idea for anything like that during the writing process and we didn’t much want to force it.

This edition we don’t plan to not ever introduce new stuff past the core and early setting books, so it’s not like 1e+2e where was Scavenger Sons and then An-Teng and that was it. If someone comes up with an amazing idea for an entire cultural milieu for the southern shores of the Fang Lakes, we can drop it in.

Lea:
The thing about Frosty Dorito Island is that it’s supposed to be a blank, unsettled, unexplored area to find whatever your ST thinks would be cool but is really ideal for any story descended from the “Explorers visiting the Antarctic for the first time” genre, and that makes it difficult to actually publish anything about it.

Coikzer:
So I can run Beyond the Mountains of Madness there?

Lea:
Or The Thing, yeah.

I mean, it’s pretty much there on the map at all because I asked Holden “Hey, your favorite movie is The Thing and your favorite episode of Doctor Who is the one where he’s trapped in an isolated base with a bunch of innocent researchers and a monster; can I put someplace on the map that enables that sort of story?” and he said “Yes, do that.”

Lea:
(Some day some freelancer is going to notice that nobody’s written much about that island, and they’re going to write a really cool proposal for some relatively minor society of ice-fishers or beastmen or something that could live on that island, and and it’s going to be really quite well-thought-out, and they may even put it into a manuscript without asking whether they should or not, and a dev is going to have to say “No, because not having anything there is more valuable than having your cool idea there.”)


Random Nerd:
Eh, the problem is how fast Solars go from tricky to kill to Unstoppable Ninja-Jesus-Zilla. You gotta gank them while they’re still gankable, in case they change their mind later on and decide that your country would look nice on their mantlepiece.

Lea:
Solars in 3e do indeed still scale up to “Your country would look good on my mantlepiece” quickly, in the context of a setting where even quick large-scale conquest typically takes place over years or decades and with the aid of broad and partially decentralized support from human resources apparatuses. They just no longer quickly scale up to “Your country would look good on my mantlepiece” in the context of five people who never leave each other’s line of sight conquering nations without outside help within weeks.

Overshee:
I understand what you mean, but I’m less sure how to implement it into my game. As an ST, how do I differentiate the magnitude of difference in difficulty between a Solar Circle in 3e taking over a city in a week long siege and conquering a country in five years? An extended war roll doesn’t sound very exciting, but neither does the PCs personally attending to every HR problem the army faces. As an ST I struggle with anything past pseudo-military, and one of my players has an idea for a Eclipse general, so this is definitely an area I’d like to improve in. I’d welcome examples from everyone.

Lea:
Conquering a city in a day is a thing that can happen. You can do the Conan thing where he signed up as the mercenary general of Aquilonia’s armies and then, later, lead a popular uprising against its tyrant-king, killed that king himself, and won the crown by popular acclaim.

The Solar charm set is no longer constructed so this is the expected outcome of Solars existing, though, so the rest of the setting no longer behaves as if that’s normal.


Wuse_Major:
That made me wonder. Just how easy is it for a Solar to pose as a normal person, Godblood, or other similar not as religously terrible being? It seems like the main thing to avoid would be the anima banner, but are there other signs that a Solar needs to watch out for?

Holden:
Nobody’s generally carrying around scouters to uncover you as a Solar; you should be okay if you’re careful not to make a huge public spectacle of yourself. Not only have most people never seen a Solar, and can reasonably expect they never will; most Wyld Hunt veterans have never seen a Solar. They’ve been vanishingly rare for all of modern history.

Prometheus878:
But if the ST wants to sic the Wyld Hunt on you, there’s still the Bronze Faction looking for any sign of your passing, right?

(I’ve noticed the reasoning behind many revealed setting decisions seems to be “whatever interpretation works for the ST’s game.”)

Holden:
The Bronze Faction doesn’t really have scouters to infallibly track you across Planet Namek, either. :-p They have to do legwork to track someone down, too. They’re just quite good at it.

Aquillion:
Is this a change from previous editions?

Or does legwork include “time spent pouring over the Loom and doing advanced Fate-mathematics to determine where you are at this exact moment or where you’ll probably be in X days?”

Sometimes it seemed like canon was inconsistent on how practical and reliable the Sidereal ability to track people through the Loom was; about how difficult is it to do? Is it something they do a lot, or is it such a pain that they only rely on it when it’s absolutely essential to find someone now and none of the other options are working?

Holden:
No, forum conversations have always enormously inflated Sidereal man-tracking powers compared to the published material, particularly post-1e hardback, which didn’t really give them much of anything useful for that purpose.

Lea:
There was that bit in the first book of the Trilogy of the Second Age, which started with a Sidereal reading some ink in a bowl of water and going “Right, there’s a Solar right over there, send a death squad.”

Holden:
That excerpted bit has had its wordcount shaved down slightly since it was previewed, but the thrust of it is unchanged. The Wyld Hunt sorties against the Lunar Anathema more frequently than anything else, and then it’s a big drop-off to whatever occupies the #2 slot, which may well be Solars; it takes a pretty remarkable spirit or Fair Folk threat to draw a full-blown Wyld Hunt against itself, at least in areas where the Realm has a significant presence.

Wolfwood2:
From the excerpt, it sounds like the key words there are “full-blown”. Three Outcaste Dragonblooded (who don’t normally cooperate) getting together with their retainers to go after a god too big for his britches might well feel themselves to be acting in the spirit of a Wyld Hunt, even if they’re far too small for most folks to call them one.

Lea:
No, those three outcastes are very much going out on a Wyld Hunt. They’re just not part of what most people think of when they think of the Wyld Hunt.

Holden:
That is totally a Wyld Hunt, and why I attached the qualifier to my statement about Realm-heavy areas. A marauding raksha & assorted hobgoblins are generally something for the local garrison and maybe one or two Exalted to ride out and deal with, there. In the hinterlands, that kind of threat might very well attract a handful of outcastes to band together, swear brotherhood beneath a tree on a hill, and then get ready to ride forth or set a trap to wipe those soul-eating fuckers out. Rural Wyld Hunts are often much more Seven Samurai than “Ride of the Valkyries.”

Anu:
I wonder if putting together a paramilitary Wyld Hunt and traveling all over Creation to hunt down Anathema for petty kingdoms and small city-states who don’t have enough Dragon-Blooded to do it themselves and who are too far away from the Realm to expect support is a viable career path for Outcastes.

Holden:
It’s a poor “career path” because the Wyld Hunt is a holy institution whose mantle is conjured when heroes ride out to protect the world. Which is to say, you’re not supposed to get paid by the locals for doing it. This would be… a scandalous but telling commentary on the fallen nature of the age, as an isolated event; as a roving business, many Dragon-Blooded would find it a standing mockery to their faith and spiritual authority, and you’d likely be ‘corrected’ with a jade spear-butt to the chin sooner or later.

Anaximander:
If Lunars are the main targets of The Wyld Hunt, do Lunars have anything even slightly analogous to combat them/mock them? Do young packs go out on a “Sylver Hunt” consecrated to Zatesh to hunt isolated Terrestrials or retrieve a new Lunar who Exalted in Realm territory?

Holden:
No. Most Lunars take the Wyld Hunt very seriously, as it’s been the leading cause of death among their kind for a thousand years now, and has slain some of their most honored and cherished heroes and mentors. The Wyld Hunt is also specifically an institution shaped and enabled by Terrestrial dominance of Creation, drawing on advantages the Lunars just can’t replicate without extreme effort.

Lea:
No, we don’t need that sort of forced symmetry, nor that sort of unnecessary Y. Lunars kill Dragon-Blooded and undermine Dragon-Blooded political interests all the time, but not in a way they conceptualize as “Our equivalent of their Wyld Hunt against us.”

Anaximander:
So all Outcastes still see themselves in terms of the Immaculate Philosophy? If a Terrestrial doesn’t believe in the IP, do they not participate in Wyld Hunts?

Holden:
All? No. Most do, since it uplifts them and gives them a (very enviable) place in the world, and they don’t have much reason to question it.

Agnostic Dragon-Blooded are likely to participate in the Wyld Hunt if one comes up. There are huge social and temporal benefits, and it’s frankly just a good idea to band together today to stop the thing that’s going to eat if left unmolested for long enough.

Lea:
The Wyld Hunt is part of the heritage of the Terrestrial Exalted in a way that’s subtly distinct from the Immaculate Philosophy; even outcastes who think the IO is bunk are likely to go “Oh, yeah, the Wyld Hunt; well, even a wrong philosophy like the IO gets some things right. They must have heard about it from our history and incorporated it into their beliefs.”

Or something like that. Point being, don’t universalize statements about the Wyld Hunt being part of Dragon-Blooded heritage into suppositions about the Immaculate Order being universal among outcastes.

(Also, by my powers of editor, I declare “outcastes” not universally capitalized.)

Jorlem:
So, Wyld Hunts don’t hire gods like Guild Caravans do (or acquire their services through other methods), in order to have someone along to Measure The Wind?

That’s kinda how I assumed the Sidereals actually found Solars and Lunars most of the time: They have some standing reward offered for Terrestrial gods that report and can lead a Sidereal to a Solar or Lunar. Sending reports to ensure that their domain is properly following Fate is already their job, so if they see something weird, and MtW says it is a Solar or Lunar, well, there’s a lot a Sidereal can do that would be rather tempting for a god.

Holden:
Measure the Wind is rarely that convenient. For a field god to use it, you need to stand in his field. For a blood-ape to use it, he needs to taste someone’s blood. The problems with having a summoned blood-ape bite everyone the Hunt runs across (and burn 5m per chomp) are self-evident.


Ekorren:
I have finally caught up with this thread (took a lot of reading), but can now finally post my own question!

Since I’ve been running a Denandsor campaign in 2E since 2011, I am very interested in whether or not Denandsor will be a thing in 3E. With a thing, I wonder if it will be mentioned at all as something that exists, if there will be sections about it in upcoming books, or if it will be removed completely.

Whether it will be a thing or not, if I want to convert my current game into 3E, I imagine that I would have to rethink the magitech aspects of the city, but what would the writers suggest would be the bigger fluff changes? I would imagine old and forgotten sorcerous workings oozing from the place, some of them probably unstable after the centuries. The miasma itself has always been open for interpretation in previous editions, but would it make sense to have it as some kind of adamant circle working rather than as an artifact/manse effect?

Keep up the good work.

Holden:
Denandsor will likely return. The 2e write-up will not influence its future portrayals except in a “what not to do” sense, as it totally deflated the intrigue and mystery that made the place so attractive to begin with back in ScavSons.


SrGrvsaLot:
Peleps Deled is not really that crazy. He’s just the Immaculate Order taken to its logical conclusion. I remember reading the Aspect Book in which he first appeared and thinking he sounded like a major asshole on a personal level, but exactly like the sort of person you’d expect to head up your roving death squads. To approve of the Wyld Hunt in general and then balk at the likes of Deled is basically just hypocrisy.

cliffc999:
Unless its hypocrisy to draw a distinction between ‘killing your enemies’ and ‘killing your allies’, and reward/punish the two separate instances in two separate fashions, then no, its not hypocrisy. Even in-setting NPCs who deeply and sincerely believe in the mission of the Wyld Hunt would still have a valid reason to object to Deled’s behavior — killing fellow Immaculates over minor points of doctrine that nobody else considers remotely important enough to kill over is counter-productive to the mission.

Y’see, you want two characteristics in the people who head up your roving death squads — effectiveness, and discipline. Deled is all over the first like white on rice, but he is a gaping lack of the second. A loose cannon is still less valuable than the other kind of cannon no matter how big a boom it can make.

John:
Deled snaps another Terrestrial’s neck while sparring and mocks her as her life flees. It looks like a training accident but most of the monks watching know better.

Murderers are drawn to roles that allow them to kill people and go unpunished, and the Immaculate Order offers such chances as a natural killer could only dream about.

AlphaWhelp:
Deled was intentionally written such that it would be up to the GM to interpret him as either insanely zealous or a sadistic murderer using religion as a front to get away with killing people. Neither version contradicts anything printed about Deled so far.

John:
Yes, he could very much be seen as a zealot. But consider the facts:

Deled doesn’t kill his sparring partner out of a belief that she has done the cause some great wrong, but rather gets away with killing her by exploiting the appearance of being zealous. He sees little more than a diacritical mistake in her understanding. More importantly, he sees an opening in her defense. He uses both as an excuse to murder her. He knows people will write it off as an accident to which his overzealous but admirable pursuit of the Dragons contributed, and that the blame will fall mostly on the inexperienced monk who unfortunately died. Accidents happen. Who can blame the Dragon for being a beast of prey and naturally deadly, especially when it is on the path of righteousness? No one.

However, the Immaculates do not actually just off and break people’s necks for treading blindly into hypocrisy or making small dogmatic errors. If they did, they’d run out of peasants (and initiates) very fast.

AlphaWhelp:
You’re leaving out some details, though. it wasn’t a sparring partner, they set up a match to fight in sort of a might determines right kind of deal. Deled won. It wasn’t intended to be a fight to the death, that’s just the kind of person he is. He didn’t dress it up as killing a heretic, he said “He slipped” and knew that nobody would have any way to prove him wrong even if everyone kind of knew he was full of shit. Secondly, the disagreement in question which started a match, was a “disagreement in interpretations of the text” which really meant more of Deled disagreeing the texts could be interpreted at all. The specific disagreement in question was the other monk said “The Exaltation is from the Dragons” and Peleps Deled said “No, the text says The Exaltation is of the Dragons, and your interpretation is wrong for 1, being wrong in the first place and 2, assuming you can interpret the texts at all.” Now the fucked up thing here is that Deled is actually right, the Exaltation is not from the Dragons, it is of the Dragons. That doesn’t excuse killing anyone over it, but he definitely had justification to kill her over zealotry being that she was spouting heresy (a really minor heresy, but still).

In the end it’s up to you or your GM to choose whether or not Deled killed her because he’s an insane zealot or a heartless psychopath who enjoys killing people (or maybe a little of both), but both versions of Deled are supported by the things he’s done.

John:
That was the minute “diacritical” error I was referring to.

I think the problem with your argument is that you are using the claim that he can be seen as a zealot without examining what that really means. In ye olden days, when a religion branded someone a zealot, that was a euphemism. What they were really saying is that Brother Bob is a murderer/rapist/thief/thug/brigand/whatever. For various reasons, it was impossible to call a member of the priesthood any of those things, so they became a zealot instead. Saying someone is zealous is to gloss over or avoid calling them what they are. You can’t say Deled is a murderer or he’s “just zealous.” He’s a murderer and they get around punishing him by saying he’s zealous.

SrGrvsaLot:
“Hypocrisy” might have been an overly contentious word to use. “Delusionally self-serving” might be more accurate. You can’t employ a hired killer then not expect them to act like one.

John:
I think your post was very interesting, but maybe a bit too absolutist? There are certainly good arguments for the hypocrisy of the Immaculates, but it’s a bit of a stretch to base it on them balking at Deled’s bloody-handedness. The Order teaches its monks to kill Anathema on sight, without prejudice, and automatically, but not its adherents. However, what is an Anathema? It is whatever Kejak wants killed, and it has been a brand given to non-Exalted in the past, and possibly without Kejak’s permission, simply by dint of following some precedent that was used in the past. At its most extreme interpretation you could say that Deled is just taking the Order to its ultimate conclusion, but I think that goes way too far in absolving Deled of his crimes and is a little too “anti religion” for my tastes.

Vault Dweller:
Canonically, wasn’t making Deled the Pinnacle of the Eye of the Hunt (aka the senior Wyld Hunter) actually a backhanded – and respectably deniable – attempt by his superiors in the IO to ensure his much desired elimination via convenient “squashing by Solar”? It just so happened to be counterproductive since he proved surprisingly competent at the new job…

John:
I don’t recall that. I would like to check out the reference though, if you can find it. It sounds plausible! As cliffc999 said above, Deled creates a liability in the structure of the Order. He isn’t Kejak’s ideal follower. He has his uses, but he also represents (as I implied in my previous post to SrGrvsaLot) a loose cannon, a person who is potentially going off the rails and using precedent to justify and hide the fact that he is a serial killer.

cliffc999:
The problem with that reasoning [“You can’t employ a hired killer then not expect them to act like one”] is that it assumes all fictional hired killers are the same, when its actually a continuum running from guys like ‘your average Call of Duty NPC’ on through guys like John Wick and then on down to the ax crazy fucknuts like Deled.

Or: I can indeed expect my professional killer to act professional. Some of the basic minimums of professionalism in this context would be ‘I’m paying you to kill the people *I* want dead, not the people *you* want dead’ and ‘Look, if I want an internal purge done I WILL EFFING TELL YOU. Until then don’t friggin’ team-kill, people are expensive to replace and random executions are harsh on morale.’

Cripes, even games like Saints Row — which is about as far away from “serious” as you can get — still go ‘A well-behaved street gang member does not kill the people in his own gang unless they are genuine traitors’. When Peleps Deled is exercising less impulse control than Johnny Gat of all people, something is direly wrong.

John:
I really like this post. I think you have a strong and compelling view of how characters on the ground see someone like Deled. But I also think it’s profitable to look at a system that allows someone like Deled to flourish with suspicion and some amount of dread.

Random Nerd:
With Deled, I wonder which of three situations we have:

1. He’s a murderous bully who’s figured out that if he mouths the right words, he can get away with it.
2. He’s a sincerely religious person who takes things way way too far.
3. You got your hate-chocolate in my murder-peanut-butter!

John:
He is definitely a fascinating character and invites a lot of great perspectives on the Immaculates.


Adama:
Are most liminals aware that others like them exist?

Holden:
Most become aware eventually, I would think.

Adama:
Whats something weird/exotic that Liminals can do that would surprise the people of creation? Aside from swaping out limbs.

Holden:
I think coming back to life after taking a spear to the heart would surprise most people. It surprises most Liminals, the first time it happens.

William Where:
Is their Dark Mother related to the Dark Mother they’re talking about in the Beast: The Primordial thread?

John:
Only Holden and I know who the Dark Mother is, so any connection there is just a nice coincidence. We came up with her before Masters of Jade was published, so the character concept is very old.

Holden:
I’ve been too busy to follow Beast developments, and I don’t think anyone on that team knows anything non-public about the Liminals. Regardless, I will now choose to believe Matt McFarland is ripping us off because it gratifies my ego. Y U SO UNCREATIVE MATT????

William Where:
Who exactly are they? A Solar is who he was before exaltation. The same for every other Exalted. But by the preview, the Liminals are not the one beign “resurrected”. It seems they are some other people? This is just rambling, I know 😦

Holden:
This is one of the big issues many Liminals struggle with.

Proteus:
Is the identity of the Dark Mother something that the Liminals book will reveal, or is it intended to remain a mystery?

John:
You will know more about her. I am not sure exactly how much we will reveal.

Tokezo Tenken:
Oh, interesting. Is there a chance we will find out who the Dark Mother is in the future? (If that’s been asked and answered, apologies.) I realize that some background stuff stays under wraps permanently. I have no problem with that either. Just my curiosity is piqued.

Edit: … answered in the time it took me to write the post.

John:
I will say this: she is connected to a well-known character.

William Where:
Well, that is something. A little bit more… Does she have more names than “Dark Mother”? Is that more like a title? Who calls her that way?

John:
That’s definitely in the realm of secrets best kept for now. I can say that both will be answered when we get to Liminals.

Daerim:
Why did you choose the name Liminals? What made it the best word for them?

Holden:
They’re neither this nor that, alive or dead, who they were nor what they were created to be– they exist between states. Also I think it’s a bitchin-cool word.

Wuse_Major:
It’s been said before that you guys want the Non-Solar Exalts to have a particular feel and playstyle. What is playing a Liminal supposed to feel like?

John:
The Liminal play space focuses on horror and what it means to be human. Liminals have grave magic and deathly nature, they are harbingers of the Underworld, ominous and naturally uncanny, and though they are Exalted and blessed with great power, they strive to be human.

Wuse_Major:
What sort of game would be ideal with a group of Liminal PCs? If one player wanted to play a Liminal in an otherwise Solar focused game, do you think that would work? Would there need to be any changes to make that game work better?

John:
You can tie a character to almost any other character and tell a good story. You can put unlikely characters together and the story can even be about the unlikelihood of those characters being together, if that’s what you want to do.

Mechanix:
Is the fact that “dark mother” was not capitalized in the Liminal preview significant?

Lea:
Proper Noun Salad doesn’t always look good on the page.

Daerim:
Are Liminals Exalted Ghosts, bound into a body?

Holden:
Nope.


kenichi-kun:
So, the apex of the Solar Charms will be…. mimicking? The powers of the UCS. Mimicking is the wrong word, I’m sure, but you mentioned that it would be something like a pure expression of UCS? Not sure if that makes sense. In contrast the apex of Abyssal Charms will (not firm and in stone of course) lean towards the powers of the Deathlords as an apex.

How would you describe the planned apex of the other Exalted? Lunars, DB, Getimien and Nocturnal are what I’m really curious about.

John:
We have no plans to do a Nocturnal Exalt, did you mean Liminal? 🙂

In any case, the exact same process may not apply to every Exalt. It doesn’t really mesh with Sidereals, for example, and Lunars are grounded in the nature of beasts so that they can find infinite expression in the places between, as that better reflects Luna than a continual spiking-upward toward something certain and specific.


AlphaWhelp:
Will the original signatures (All/any of them, from Dace to Seven Forbidden Wisdoms) still be canon in the setting?

Vance:
There’s an very sexy illustration of Panther in the Kickstarter previews.


Mr Stabs:
1) When will the Exalted community be able to get on board Lyta’s Fantastic Heartripping Wild Ride? I haven’t heard much about her since the Dawn book.

John:
Great question. We’ll need to see if customers would be on board for a revisit of the Solars later in the edition.

Mr Stabs:
3) Who is the Triple H of Exalted?

John:
Mnemon


James Yakura:
What are the titles (for instance: Vizier, Steward, Deathknight) for the new Exalt types?

If the Liminals had been involved in the Primordial War, what would their role have been?

John:
No titles yet! We feel that giving everyone a title boxes them into a particular role. We’re not basing all of the Exalts around a role they exist to fulfill.

Zeea:
I really like that. I always felt like Exalted got a little too neat and clean with everyone objectively having some place they were made to serve, and it never changes, rather than it being a matter of belief and laws based on those beliefs.

John:
We agree, and it’s reflected in both the setting and the mechanics. Exalts are not function-oriented beings, and while Sidereals do have job descriptions as a fact of who and what they are, each individual Sidereal gets to decide how to best use her powers to do her job. Solars and Dragon-Blooded were not actually created for specific roles, but the very fact of the Essence that bore them pushes both types of Exalts toward certain tendencies. While Lunars have power that reflects a role and a purpose, the context for that role vanished at the end of the First Age and they have been freed to define themselves anew or embrace their pasts, and this is where most of their conflicts come from.

But the Exalts don’t have powers to “fulfill this role another Exalt can’t fulfill” because there aren’t many things an Exalt can’t do, Dragon-Blooded included. This is why we’re moving away from limiting titles like Vizier and Steward, and just letting them be Sidereal and Lunar Exalted, and letting that carry all the weight it needs to carry. Titles tend to distract people away from what an Exalt is, saying “this sums it up” when it really doesn’t, and creates a shorthand mentality that points to the Charm sets more than anything. Our setting material tends never to point at Charm sets, but at the heroes themselves, as legitimate bearers of the power of the Celestial Incarnae and the Five Elemental Dragons, granted the power and the freedom to decide how they should embody and apply the tremendous and unique forms of Essence that moves through them. That said, some Essences are more constraining than others, as some patrons are more naturally constrained than others. The Maidens are tied absolutely to the Loom of Fate, and their tone and presentation matches a more function/role based existence, one of constraints. Lunars meanwhile partake of the Essence of something indefinite, ever-changing, and grounded by and attached to Creation, something that is always in shift and moving toward its next phase.

Conversely, we embraced the Lawgiver title because it’s both profound and yet an understatement. The divinely-ordained “First Among the First” vibe it gives reflects a Biblical level, Book of Judges Yahweh level of fiat that fits any Solar, even the ones who are terrifying and who tend to take the laws of men and smash them over their knees. While I’m on it, deathknight remains a lowercase appellation for the Abyssals, but not a title, because it doesn’t reflect the roles or methods of every Abyssal. Deathknight enters Creation’s parlance during the attack on Thorns, where they were first reported and described. We tend to think of them now as death’s Lawgivers.


RxTKS:
Question for the Devs: Can a mortal levy a true curse on another mortal? Can a mortal levy a curse on an Exalted, Terrestrial or otherwise? I don’t need mechanics, but is a curse a spirit thing or a fate thing?

John:
A true curse? Like something magical? No. A sorcerer could, though, and mortals can become sorcerers.


Prometheus878:
I’m already on board, and the thing hasn’t even come out yet.

It seems kind of restrictive for each splat to have only one book and then they have to share every other book with everyone else. I’m hoping to see more splat specific books in the future, Solars included!

John:
We do indeed have books planned to work as supplements for specific Exalts.

Overshee:
I’d be so down for perioidic 20 page mini-supplements on a particular exalt, or a new location, or stuff that just doesn’t fit in any of the planned books (or that’s been created since a book came out). Sell ’em for a few bucks on DTRPG, kickstart a hardcover compilation once the fans are pleased with the concept?

John:
The print on demand business model makes something like a run of Caste books more plausible. Where the Solars are concerned, I am not ready to put something like that on the menu because the core book is going to deliver maximum Solar-ness and people are going to be over the moon [insert Lunar pun here] to see the other Exalts get air time. But maybe it’s something worth thinking about in a year or so.


Vault Dweller:
On the topic of mighty sorcerous workings: could a truly knowledgeable, ambitious and obsessive Dragon-Blooded sorcerer with utter mastery over the Emerald Circle (perhaps a House Ledaal master savant, or an outcaste magician-king of the Hundred Kingdoms) but who lacks access to a “cheat-code item” like the Mantle of Brigid, undertake a grand working to take the “step up” to accessing the Sapphire Circle?

Holden:
Yes, but probably not in the way you mean.


Jorlem:
On a related note, do you know if Onyx Path plans to make or license any Exalted merchandise of this sort?

Holden:
You can already buy a range of official Exalted shirts on Redbubble! It seems likely that their range will get expanded at some point in the future.


Solar:
Pretty exciting to think that the final text is in layout and layout is getting work on! I know we are all very excited to get the backer PDF, but how will the dev’s celebrate?

I also note from the MM Notes that Arms of the Chosen is in the Second Draft. We also know that the DB book is after that, yes? It’d be cool to see quite a swift release schedule coming behind the core, do you anticipate far more ease in terms of writing and producing the later books in the line than was the case with the core?

Holden:
Laying down the groundwork for a fast, smooth supplement pipeline to run over the next 6+ years is one of the big reasons the core took so long to do.


Anu:
Can you tell us what your favourite action in the combat system is? I’m not curious about the actual mechanics, just what it’s called.

Holden:
The “distract” gambit has a very unprepossessing name but is a huge game-changer. Also, disengage actions are wonderfully tense.

As far as name-woot goes, it’s still quite fun to yell “Join Battle!” although the slaughter action gives it a run for its money.


Notsteve:
Now I’m reminded of ideas I had for a mortal antagonist who specialized in Bureaucracy. It seemed like a cool idea; it would take a while for the PCs to even figure out someone was sabotaging them, since things would just go subtly wrong every time they had to deal with the government of their home city. And once they figured that out, they’d still have to figure out who was doing it, since the mortal wouldn’t have to be anywhere near them to sabotage them. It seemed like it would be a cool subplot to be going on while they were dealing with more obvious dangers.

Then I realized that a Solar could just pick up a single bureaucracy charm and have an “I win” button for this scenario and got sad.

Would this sort of antagonist work in Third Edition? And is there the possibility for interesting mortal antagonists specializing in other non-combat non-social skills?

And if I haven’t already asked enough questions for this scenario, what level of challenge would such a mortal prove? Let’s take as an example a mortal thief who’s trying to steal from a Solar who doesn’t know about them. How much of a chance of success do they have if the Solar has completely ignored any skills related to thieving? If they’ve dabbled in it? If they specialize in being a thief?

Holden:
Solar Charms aren’t like aiming the Eye of Sauron at a problem from the next kingdom over any more, so that kind of opponent could cause a fair bit of mayhem, although once the Circle has him in their crosshairs, he’s probably in a lot of trouble.

Mortals trying to challenge Solars head-on in their arena of competence are usually in for a bad day. On the other hand, a Solar with Larceny 0 and jack for Awareness isn’t going to fare much better against a thief stealing his stuff than any other dude would.

HoratioAtTheBridge:
1) How well would a mortal sorcerer fair as a mastermind antagonist for a circle of Solars?

Holden:
He could do fairly well, as long as he never lets himself get put in a situation where he has to face down an angry Circle head-on without copious amounts of back-up. But then, that’s true of most things.


Anu:
Can you tell us if a single sorcerous working can have multiple effects?

Specifically, I’m wondering about the viability of a sorcerous working that can 1) allow merchants to safely make their way to a specific city if they have something to trade, going so far as to allow demons and ghosts to freely leave Malfeas and the Underworld (because this cannot possibly go wrong), 2) impose the Eclipse diplomatic immunity on everyone currently trading in the city, 3) impose the Eclipse oath power on all contracts signed in the city, and 4) invite all merchants to visit the city once they’ve completed their first deal worth X amount of silver.

Vance:
The heart of a sorcerous working is an intention. “I want the mazy pathways of this forest to lead all travelers to my lair.” “I want to transform this guy into a loyal monster body guard.” “I want this city to fly.” If multiple effects are necessary for the working to uphold that intention—assuming the player’s choices and rolls have gotten her to a place it will uphold her intention—it can have them.


Zeea:
THis was probably answered two editions ago, but I guess I’ll just throw this in since it might be different in 3e.

Exalted ghosts are averse to salt, right? What does that mean for pirate ghosts, drowned ghosts, and other saltwater undead?

John:
Nothing. It’s not a chemical reaction, it’s a reaction to salt extracted and carefully laid in lines.


smarttman:
I’m sure this has been addressed before, but how beginner friendly, setting wise, will the core book be to new players/GMs?

Holden:
It was written specifically with new players/Storytellers as its target audience.


Gentleman Grunt:
How easy will it be to convert old artifacts that may not be in 3e yet? My intention is things like Glorious Solar Hand Cannon, artifact version of a flame piece, or even an artifact crossbow. Given a reasonable competency in bastardizing things for new systems.

Vance:
Really.


Poop Deck:
How is the Team approaching the development of Dragon-Blood Charms regarding the synergy effect of multiple Dragon-Bloods being involved?

Vance:
The Dragon-Blooded Charm set encourages and rewards teamwork. There’s not one uniform way this is done, like the Cooperative keyword in 2e, but is baked in to the way their Charms work.


Charles Gray:
Question– I’m really exciting about workings, so are the rules for them gonna be in the core book or delayed until another book comes out?

This is parhaps my biggest fear with EX3– there’s a lot of stuff those of us who have been around since 1e are gonna wanna see but the publishing schedule, If I’m right in my predictions, probably will have us be very close, if not past 2020 when the last updated material could be published (the core books+ expansions).

Holden:
Sorcerous workings are in the core. Sorcerers will get additional love fairly early in the supplement run, as well.


Zeea:
Speaking of Autochthon, and apologies if this has been covered, but is 3e going to dial back his influence on Creation and/or make it more ambiguous? Conversely, are there any plans to give his Exalted any presence in Creation?

Holden:
Yes / too early to say. Autochthon is, even by the standards of occult historians and savants, an obscure bit of fascinating apocrypha in the Age of Sorrows.

AlphaWhelp:
I really liked the 2e interpretation of autochthon where it said the gods credited him with a lot of stuff he didn’t do because he isn’t around to deny it and they didn’t want to credit the yozi with anything.

Lea:
Attributing a bunch of stuff to the Yozis that earlier books had previously attributed to Autochthon was a decent fix for a problem that, this edition, we can just sort of avoid from the start.

Holden:
Few individuals in Creation know the word “Yozi,” and most of those are dedicated savants, sorcerers, or Immaculate monks of a very scholarly bent. Of those, even fewer could actually name any of the vanquished demon princes of old. They’re not just considered unimportant in the Age of Sorrows, they’re largely forgotten; even those who are aware of them don’t tend to assign them much more importance than the Titans got in Greek mythology (i.e. they show up at the beginning and then are largely forgotten for the most part).

Anaximander:
Just don’t make Auto an uncool chump, please.

John:
We don’t plan to make anyone an “uncool chump.”


HoratioAtTheBridge:
I keep thinking about the interaction between Sorcery and the native charm sets. Is there some way that a Dragonblooded, Lunar, or Solar sorcerer might use their spells that would be different than a mortal? For instance, I imagine that something like the old Cloud Chariot would be pretty cool for a mortal sorcerer, but would be a great missile platform for a Solar sorcerer with a few Archery charms. Any other synergies come to mind?

Holden:
I’m currently playing a Twilight sorcerer/martial artist. Wood Dragon’s Claw + tiger style = death to all who oppose me 😀


will2goforth:
How different does brawl feel than an unarmed style?

Vance:
About as different as it is from Melee.

will2goforth:
If you were to see them both would it be obvious who was using brawl?

Vance:
Depends on the unnarmed style. If it’s Black Claw, for instance, totally.

will2goforth:
I totally missed that Black Claw was coming back. I’m interested in seeing how it will change with the new edition.

Vance:
Black Claw was one of the easiest styles to convert, mostly because Holden is really good at writing martial arts.

will2goforth:
What kinds of awesome things could a Solar brawling master do as opposed to someone using an unarmed style?

Vance:
There’s a whole lot of new hotness, but I appreciate the old, reliable standby of just Heaven Thunder Hammering a dude.

Holden:
They’re pretty different! When you see a master of Snake style deliver a pressure-point strike to the center of someone’s chest, followed by them staggering away coughing up blood as their Essence is corrupted into a deadly venom inside of them; or a Crane practitioner smoothly deflects a daiklave with the back of his hand, using the same motion to wheel into a back-fist to his attacker’s chest– that’s a very distinct thing from the Solar bruiser who steps into a huge Thing vs Hulk two-page splash illustration wind-up, then punches a guy clear through a teahouse with Heaven Thunder Hammer.

nexus:
Solar unarmed fighters are more restricted to being bruiser/prowrestler types unless they go for styles?

John:
Brawl hails back to the original purpose of the Ability, which was to allow people to play an archetypal bare-handed fighter who just goes on courage, rage, and natural talent, not any kind of formalized dojo system.

Argent:
Going from earlier editions, I suspect that playing a “disciplined” Brawler will be roughly as hard as making up cool descriptions for their fights.

Vance:
You’d be about right. You’ll be able to go deep in Brawl without ever having to touch the tree that Heaven Thunder Hammer is in, but honestly, why would you?

wheloc:
There’s also the question of “Why develop a fancy martial tradition, complete with esoteric philosophy and emulation of animal movements, if some farm boy with a mean right hook can beat you?”

John:
Because generating such a system means, generally, a farm boy with a mean right hook can’t beat you. NPCs aren’t able to read the Charm set and compare notes and mortals don’t use Charms. Brawl is a measurement of someone who can beat the hell out of someone without technical, systemic formulation of skills. It is a pulp fiction trope a thousand miles long, it doesn’t fit at all into the modern conception of martial arts—which Exalted does not use.

Lea:
Well you could totally be the guy who’s good at the punching parts of martial arts and doesn’t care about the esoterica, like the villain in a Karate Kid movie. If the game isn’t in the “Martial Arts Epic” genre, you’re unlikely to get two-timed by Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-san for it, even.

Random Nerd:
Hmm.

Jeet Kune Do, Brawl or Martial Arts?

John:
Martial Arts. Jeet Kune Do is subject to all the systems that were used to make it. That construction is reversed in Exalted, where you come out of the mire of instinctual chairshots and liver punches to become something refined. Brawl has its own myth, but Martial Arts embodies many kinds of myths.

John:
Brawl doesn’t fit into a modern martial arts subset, so trying to describe it as “no style” JKD, which is absolutely a martial art, will create dissonance. It was written for guys like Indiana Jones, bare knuckle pulp fiction heroes who use the power of naturally-talented-at-violence to get things done.

Not everyone who plays this game knows about martial arts, or are enthralled by martial arts. Some people want to just grab ornamental an orichalcum engraving and hit a dog of the unbroken earth so hard it flies out of its fur.*

*May have happened in a recent EX3 playtest.

nexus:
So I’d have rewrite the previous PCs that are in my games who have figurative styles based on JKD, MMA and similar arts with MA to for 3rd?

John:
You don’t have to do anything with your homebrew inventions that you don’t want to do.

Solar:
I think he means more “I used to use Brawl to represent characters who fight in this manner, do I need to use MA now instead?”

I am wondering the same thing myself, to be honest. Do MMA fighters use Brawl or Martial Arts, for example? Or is Brawl limited to guys like Jackson in Bloodsport, Arnie’s Conan and Fantastic Four’s Thing, you know, big brute force sluggers?

John:
Well, Brawl didn’t exist in 2e, and in 1e it was exactly what it is in EX3, so I had to assume he was talking about something he made up.

Solar:
I am wondering the same thing myself, to be honest. Do MMA fighters use Brawl or Martial Arts, for example? Or is Brawl limited to guys like Jackson in Bloodsport, Arnie’s Conan and Fantastic Four’s Thing, you know, big brute force sluggers?

John:
MMA is one of those modern conceptions I’m talking about. You can mix up multiple martial arts styles by using different Charms, but that’s not going to look like the quasi-agnostic fusion shootfighting you see on guys like Brock Lesnar, etc. You can certainly do stuff that looks like that with Brawl’s grapple effects, and you can certainly crush people with knees and elbows, but you don’t actually have to have that kind of a background to use Brawl. If you’re okay with ignoring that it’s not actually representative of martial arts, go to town.

Lea:
To the extent that modern conceptions of martial arts are more accurate-to-life than those drawn from genre media produced over the broad period of the last century, and to the extent that Exalted draws on conceptions of martial arts influenced by genre media produced over the broad period of the last century rather than modern conceptions of martial arts, Exalted’s portrayal of martial arts may have difficulty emulating accurate-to-life martial arts examples, such as, indeed, real people who are real experts at real martial arts owing to having to exist in the real world rather than benefiting from genre tropes due to being fictional. This seems inescapeable to me!

Solar:
I think people might just be getting the idea that Brawl is for big dumb sluggers,

John:
People get a lot of weird ideas. *Shrug* The Brawler in my group is the Zenith, who is quite compassionate, intelligent, and brawny. She’s violently talented, and if she grabs a table end and drives it forward with Heaven Thunder Hammer, the Immaculate Monk on the other side still gets knocked ass first through a keyhole, and all of his enlightenment and discipline won’t stop that from happening, so who is actually the dumb one? In truth, neither one, since you know, any application of brutality can be done in some clever way, but if you want to distill things down to a binary (which I don’t) the dumb one is the monk who stepped up to a Solar with Heaven Thunder Hammer.

Solar:
It’s like the whole Dex/Str thing, it’s not really a big deal, but for plenty of people, Exalted is that game that they really wanted to play more but didn’t or even couldn’t because the system ranged from shaky to nigh-on unplayable. So when SLS says “look guys, Dex is a bit better than Strength in Ex3” they thing “oh fuck, here we go again.”

John:
It’s an inescapable reality that more accuracy > stronger hit. This is true because it is physically true. I think the expectation of something else is unreasonable.

That said, we didn’t build a game where you need to top Dexterity to have fun in combat.

Solar:
I don’t think people are saying “I want there to be a realistic portrayal of martial arts in Exalted!” so much as they are saying that Martial Arts styles tend to be a Thing, a style represents a particular philosophy or animal, sometimes you want to play a fighter who is not interested in all that but damn if they aren’t great when it comes to kicking people’s heads in. Like, have you seen The Raid? You know Mad Dog? He’s an incredibly skilled fighter but I can’t really say that he seems like a Martial Artist so much as he seems like someone who is an immensely good Brawler.

And that’s an aesthetic, not a demand for realism. Same with Tony Jaa in The Protector or whatever, he’s slamming guys through boards with knee strikes and clearly knows what he is doing, but the aesthetic is not jumpy wushu, it’s “I’m stronger and faster and tougher than you are and I know exactly how to put my knee through your face” I don’t think realism is what people want for Exalted at all, they just want to know, what variation of aesthetics fits for Brawl, and what fits for Martial Arts?

Lea:
I get what you mean, and yeah, in that case, someone like Tony Jaa in The Protector would be well-represented by either a) taking Brawl, and using stunts inspired by Tony Jaa, or b) taking an appropriate Martial Art, and playing a martial artist who learned esoteric martial arts secrets primarily in order to wreck face. I mean, assuming e.g. Snake style is taught all around Creation, there will be some places where if you learn Snake style, you get an instructor who’s really into emulating snakes, and the philosophy of snakes, and how awesome snakes are, and sometimes you get an instructor who’s really into his particular tradition of martial arts, and his feuds with the Tiger style temple across the river, and sometimes you get an instructer who’s really into hurting people efficiently, and sometimes you get an instructor who’s really into, I dunno, fighting for the rights of the poor, and it just so happens that snake style was what he had the opportunity to learn so that’s what he uses. You can play someone taught by any of those last three instructors rather than the first one. There’s nothing stopping you from taking Snake Charms and then telling the ST “Look, I’m just taking these because I like the way they let me fight; I don’t actually care about snakes and if you start docking me XP for not roleplaying a Snake master correctly I’m going to stop helping to spring for pizza.”

That said, if Jeet Kun Do is a “martial art” specifically and explicitly based around the philosophy that esoteric martial arts philosophies are stupid formalistic wank by people more interested in puffing up their own sense of self-importance than learning how to actually fight effectively, and you should really just learn the best ways to punch people, and this turned out to be correct when empirically tested in the real world (which wouldn’t surprise me…), but Exalted assumes that learning esoteric martial arts philosophies really does impart secrets of the universe that result in learning how to punch people best, then, uh…?

Like, we want to provide options, but we can’t be expected to provide options aimed at negating our own theses here.

Solar:
No no, I get that.

And you need to pick a way to do it, of course.

I want to play Tony Jaa/Iko Uwais/etc in Exalted, if I am going to play any unarmed fighter, because movies with that style of martial arts are my favourite martial arts movies. But I’m less concerned with this definitely being in Brawl as I am just wondering how to portray this kind of fighter, very direct and powerful, not flashy but impressive given the sheer power, speed and aggression of the fighter. Which could fit in Brawl, or could be done with a Martial Art! And that’s fine too. Like I said, it’s a cool aesthetic that people want to evoke, and why not? It’s very fitting for Exalted, and is a nice change from the typical Wing Chun Wushu you tend to get in Martial Arts movies.

Lea:
I wanna say “Just take Tiger Style and don’t invoke tigers in your stunts.” Or whatever other style has Charms that fit with what you want to be able to do; I dunno.

Wolfwood2:
If a guy in Exalted is practicing Jeet Kun Do, I see no reason why he can’t be of the strongly held position that it’s much more efficient and effective to learn the best ways to punch people and ignore all the magical martial arts philosophy stuff. Maybe he thinks it’s the equivalent of being more xp efficient or something; all that magic shit is great but in the time you’re spending to learn how to sway like a cobra he’s learned to punch opponents through walls *and* through floors.

He doesn’t have to be objectively correct. He just has to think so and have enough pain in his punch to make onlookers wonder if he isn’t on to something.

Lea:
It’d be difficult to write that martial arts style in a way that excites the fanbase, because it’s even more explicitly, out-of-character wrong than the Immaculate Order, and goes against the point of the Sidereals, who are the setting’s iconic master martial artists precisely because their mystic connection to esoterica, which empowers their native magic, also allows them unparalleled insights into the esoteric mysteries that underly the martial arts.

Random Nerd:
I’ve been thinking about this, and I figured out why it bugs me.

You talk here about how “Exalted assumes that learning esoteric martial arts philosophies really does impart secrets of the universe that result in learning how to punch people best”, but does it?

I mean, my understanding is that Martial Arts is basically equivalent in effectiveness with other ways of fighting. Snake Stylist Sam and Dude-Puncher Steve may fight in different ways, but they’re both basically on the same level, assuming equal character-building and XP investment in their respective methods of violence. If Sam thinks that studying the movement of snakes or some other esoteric idea is the best way to learn how to punch people, he’s wrong, since it’s no more or less supported by the world than learning to punch people by a Rocky-esque training montage. And if Steve thinks that ignoring all that snake stuff and just practicing your punching a lot is better, he’s wrong too.

So if there’s room for adherents of what I guess for the purposes of this discussion we’re calling “figurative” martial arts styles to be wrong about that kind of thing without undermining the setting, how would it be any more genre-destroying for some sort of Bruce Lee or Miyamoto Musashi of Creation to be equally wrong in the opposite direction?

Lea:
You’re correct that martial arts are equivalent in effectiveness with other ways of fighting for balance purposes; that doesn’t mean you’re not actually learning esoteric secrets that lead to better fighting abilities when you learn, say… let’s go with Dreaming Pearl Courtesan Style, because it lets you turn into a gazellecarp. That’s demonstrably not normal.

You’re not, as one may or may not be in real life, learning an effective fighting system that happens to only correlate culturally with a philosophy, taught by instructors who may or may not be mistaken about the degree to which correlation implies causation. (As Bruce Lee seemed to conclude.) You’re not just learning effective techniques for fighting with loose sleeves while hearing stories about the Dreaming Pearl Courtesan; you’re actually learning the real secrets of the Dreaming Pearl Courtesan which, when comprehended, impart insights on how to fight effectively with loose sleeves and eventually how to transform into a flying deer-fish-dragon and if you’re not careful evaporate into dream forever.

You can make up a martial art that doesn’t care about that; that is interested in esoteric secrets only inasmuch as they increase one’s ability to wreck face.

It sort of throws a wrench into the whole thing to make up a martial art that is specifically based around the idea that esoteric martial arts philosophies are a bunch of antiquated bullshit by hidebound instructors who’ve confused correlation with causation, though.

Random Nerd:
What happens if someone tries to develop a martial art based on a conception of reality that’s false?

Like, if someone who’s spent too much time hanging out with Gilmyne tries to develop Opening the Saigoth Gates Style, and there are no Saigoth Gates, does it just not come together into a viable and coherent martial art? Do they end up accidentally developing Being Overly Credulous About Stuff Demons Say Style? Or what?

Lea:
I feel like this deserves Rumiko Takahashi’s answer to what happens if Ranma gets pregnant in girl-form: “I don’t think about that, and neither should you.”

More seriously there are precedents for that, but they’re called Terrifying Ascent-Driven Beast Style, Obsidian Shards of Infinity Style, and That Time The Saigoth Gates Became Canonically Real Despite Jenna’s Intentions Because Given A Long Enough Timeline, All Fables And Prophecies In A Fantasy Setting Will Turn Out To Be Objectively True, so. It’s up to you how clever you want to get with these things, but my experience suggests trying to get clever with them to any degree whatsoever rapidly leads you someplace you don’t actually want to go.

This is basically a weird edge case, in the sense that a) John is correct that the way Jeet Kun Do fights doesn’t “feel” like Solar Brawl Charms, and is probably best represented in the combat system with a martial art inspired by it, but b) if you were to do that and then base that martial art’s in-setting philosophies and Charm names around the actual foundational thought processes of Jeet Kun Do, the result looks stupid unless you do it very cleverly. And it’s unfortunate that our weird edge case seems to have popped up right in the middle of the extremely popular real-world martial art founded by the most famous real-life martial artist ever, but there you go.

Solar:
I guess you just have a guy who thinks turning into a flying Deer-Fish-Dragon is all well and good I suppose, if you’re a perfumed courtier, but that it’s not as purely focused on pushing someone’s teeth into the back of their head with your fist as their own technique. Which would be a Martial Art style in of itself, I guess. That’s actually a reasonably interesting idea, a Martial Arts style which doesn’t say “apply this to fighting” but instead says “apply fighting to fighting.” Chucking all of this stuff about proving all the complex philosophy to be innately not as good as kick-punching, what is the complex philosophy behind kick-punching, is what I want to know!

“I am very much interested in the esotoric concepts behind wrecking face. Specifically the esotoric concept of wrecking face, as that seems the most directly related.” Kind of like having Bruce Lee as your spirit animal.

Lea:
I would suspect, based purely on pattern recognition and not on any discussion with Holden or John, that at some point we’re going to do a KS where we open up previously-published Terrestrial styles as backer tiers the way previously-published Celestial styles were backer tiers for the corebook, and someone will pay money to have us upgrade First Pulse Style to 3e, and then that’ll be a thing, yeah. I could be wrong!


Lea:
(For what it’s worth, as a pure artifact of the system, at the mortal level I would tend to slightly favor the martial arts master over the brawl master for the simple reason that most martial-arts-master-character-concepts I’ve seen tend to slightly favor dexterity over strength, and most school-of-hard-knocks-master-brawler-character-concepts tend to slightly favor strength over dexterity, and, uh. This is not necessarily desireable, but there you go. Ultimately the whole thing is slightly arbitrary, and whether you want the esoteric philosophy guy to win over the school of hard knocks guy all else being equal or vice versa is down to what set of aesthetics you favor.)

Wolfwood2:
Was it really not possible to fix the supremacy of dexterity in the combat system? You guys rebuilt the system from the ground up, and a muscle-fighter being inferior to a fast-fighter has been a complaint for so very long.

Lea:
I’m sure there’s a hypothetical thorough fix; most likely this involved sufficient redesigning-from-first-principles as to ensure the result would enter new design spaces and encounter new, as-yet-unforseen problems, and/or create necessary cascading changes that the final result would not “feel like Exalted,” and/or invite streamlining that would eliminate mechanical hooks necessary for supporting a half-dozen separate Charm sets over the course of the next several years — all of which are problems that could also be solved, of course… at the cost of more dev time.

Hmm. Okay. Exalted 3rd Edition was at one point effectively delayed for an additional… I’mma say two weeks or so… because we moved to an abstract positioning system and a playtester broke that system in half, and Holden then had to fix it, and then John had to rewrite Charms that were contingent on the way it had worked before the fix. This isn’t secret — it was in Rich’s Monday Meeting reports. This is good! Because it was fixed, and our new abstract positioning system is all the better for it. (Certainly better than the old track-individual-meters-per-tick system that nobody ever, ever really used, except in the context of napkin math to determine if your flurrybreaker succeeds.) But it was also bad, because delays are bad, and more delays are worse. The further we move into uncharted design waters, the more testing is required, and while you can e.g. assert that if only we were more competent, we could test effectively in less time, it is tautologically true that the dev team is only as competent as it is.

I think we settled on bringing Strength and Dexterity as close to parity as we could manage without radically overhauling the attribute paradigm. This does still favor dexterity slightly — though less than in previous editions.

I thought it was interesting, as a sort of throwaway comment, how this interacts with the way esoteric master character concepts and school of hard knocks character concepts compete in the context of Martial Arts vs. Brawl. I fear I may yet again have discovered a throwaway topic so interesting that it threatens to derail the whole thread. Sorry, everybody!

Wolfwood2:
Understand, I’m not calling for changes at this point and it is what it is. I’m more curious about back at day one when you really were “redesigning-from-first principles”. Or are you saying that the dex/str issue is even more fundamental than that, rooted so deeply in the system that even the most basic of basic mechanics that you started with had it baked in?

Lea:
If you have a mechanic where you roll one thing to hit and another thing to do damage, and you don’t get to roll damage unless you succeed on the roll to hit, the thing you roll to hit will be more valuable than the thing you roll to damage because the hit thing gates the damage thing. This can, in theory, be mitigated by devaluing hits in comparison to damage, but in practice actually doing so is like balancing something on the edge of a knife — very easy to favor one or the other, very difficult to make equal. Especially when each is an independent variable that describes a part of a character and the goal is to make each equal no matter how much they vary on any given character.

You can fix it by throwing out that whole parading, by making damage fixed, by making attacks successful by default, by not separating your hit trait and your damage trait at all, etc. etc.. All of those things would have been a bigger departure from Storyteller than we wanted, as I understand it.

John:
We don’t think the game should try to say that speed and accuracy aren’t the province of the attribute that governs speed and accuracy. Rather, we wrote a game where you can absolutely get by without topped off Dexterity, and a game where playing a mechanically perfect combat character isn’t the only choice for having lots of fun. If you want to min max the combat, you can try, but you’re going to pour ten times as much XP out trying to do it. The rewards are big, but harder to achieve, and you’re going to give up eeeeeverything else that actually matters and probably get talked into things easily, because you ignored social influence, or get tricked, because you suck at Investigation and Larceny, or you pretty much can’t make anything because you don’t read (no Lore), you don’t build (no Craft), etc. Also your life is a soulless void because you don’t have Survival’s familiar tree. Also forget being the ultimate sea captain wrecking armadas. And being the one who rides a stealthy god-beast into battle, fuhgeddaboudit. Because you just focused on one thing, you ignored all the other things that mattered, so you know, hope your ST is going to cater to your decision there bub.

gourdcaptain:
Okay, I’m probably walking into something here, but you can be worried that Dex is a more optimal pick on a character which isn’t going all-in on combat because you want to be able to just dabble in combat without being completely useless at it because you invested in the WRONG thing with your combat investment. I’ve built Exalted characters in 2e who took secondary physical stats, put them mostly into Stamina, bought a cool-looking Martial Art, bought Martial Arts to 3, bought two to three Martial Arts charms, and then realized to my utter horror I can’t HIT anything because Dex was that important and my Stamina is nigh-useless for cutting down the damage from a grand killstick or what have you. So instead of being a mostly social guy with some combat, I ended up a guy who couldn’t effectively combat at all. So worrying about these things doesn’t mean we’re going to build monoexclusive combat beatsticks. Please don’t assume anyone who worries about mechanical balance of the stats is solely out to powergame their character into that.

John:
As I just said, you can have quite a lot of fun in combat without topping off Dexterity. I am confused because your post reads like I had said just the opposite.


Alderman:
I went back and finally read Masters of Jade the other day, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. And I gotta say, it is a fantastic book. It positively overflowed with sense of place.

So how much of that book will stay relevant in 3e?

John:
The spirit and tone of that book will be very relevant, though some of the details will not.


You can find the next compilation here:
Q&A Summary #13